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Nicknamed Little Edo (Koedo), the castle town of Hikone holds the Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival for a few days centering on Oct. 29, the birthday of Ii Naosuke. Statue of Lord Ii Naomasa in front of Hikone Station.
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The main highlight of the festival is the Hikone Castle Festival Parade held in the afternoon of Nov. 3 (national holiday called Culture Day).
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The parade has children and adults dressed in historical costumes, especially the red samurai armor which was the trademark of the Ii clan. Even a modern samurai needs a cell phone.
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Castle parade route to Hikone Castle.
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These photos were taken on Nov. 3, 2009.
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Start of the Hikone Castle Parade on Nov. 3. Boy Scouts help out by carrying signs.
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Military band
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Dream Ambassador from Takamatsu, Kagawa Pref.
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Miss Plum Blossom from Mito, Ibaraki Pref. Mito's connection with Hikone lies in the radical samurai who assassinated Ii Naosuke near Edo Castle.
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Flags from sister cities.
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Miss Hikone Castle
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Miss Hikone Castle
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Tourist Site Clean Campaign
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Kawase Junior and Senior High School band.
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Asahinomori Elementary School in Hikone.
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Hikone Gun Battalion whose members are licensed to fire matchlock guns.
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Hikone Gun Battalion dressed like Ii Clan samurai with their trademark red armor nicknamed "Red Devils."
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Hikone Gun Battalion
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Little Edo Hikone Castle Festival Parade
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Ii Naosuke procession
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Ii Naosuke is portrayed by an actor.
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Ii Naosuke (井伊 直弼) (1815-1860) as the Tokugawa shogunate's Chief Minister (Tairo) who favored and concluded commercial treaties with the Western powers and thus broke Japan's isolation from the world.
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Next are groups wearing period costumes. They are junior high schoolers.
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Heian Period (794-1185) women wearing veiled straw hats called ichime-gasa. 市女笠
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A few foreigners too.
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Samurai laborers carrying luggage for a traveling daimyo.
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Chief retainer who started the construction of Hikone Castle upon the wishes of Ii Naomasa. 家老の木俣守勝
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A daimyo
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Samurai wives
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Shrine maidens from Izumo
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Dancers from Muromachi Period (1337-1573)
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Kamakura Period (1185–1333) women wearing veiled straw hats called ichime-gasa. 市女笠
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Shirabyoshi dancers from the Heian Period.
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Katsugi veiled kimono worn by the nobility in the Muromachi Period.
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Soldiers from the Ii clan.
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Ii Clan's "Red Devil" samurai vassals wearing their trademark red armor.
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Banners with the crest of the Ii clan.
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Ii clan warriors
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Ii Naomasa (井伊直政) (1561-1602 ) was the first lord of Hikone from 1600. He was a general under Tokugawa Ieyasu whom he helped to win the Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. He was rewarded with the fief of Omi (now Shiga) and built Hikone Castle.
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Ii Naotaka
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The Hikone Gun Battalion in formation for a firing demo.
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They fire their matchlock guns.
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The matchlock guns make a huge bang.
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Hiko-nyan
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Hiko-nyan is Hikone's official mascot. A white cat wearing a samurai helmet modeled after Ii Naomasa.
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Sitting like royalty, local politicians such as the mayor sit in a special stand on the right in front of the horse stable. The rest of us stand and watch like peasants.
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Hikone Traditional Fireman Preservation Group
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Firemen
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Fireman's ladder
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They hoist up the ladder for someone to climb up.
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Fireman's ladder acrobatics
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Fireman's acrobatics is a crowd pleaser.
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Sarugaku entertainers from the Omi Sarugaku Taga-za troupe. 猿楽
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Sarugaku is a centuries-old form of entertainment and a precursor to Noh and Kyogen.
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Foreigners carry the shishimai lion heads, but they did not perform with it.
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Dragon dance
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Shishimai lion dance
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Before or after the castle parade, you might as well see the chrysanthemum exhibit at Gokoku Shrine (護国神社), a shrine dedicated to Shiga's war dead.
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Chrysanthemum looking like Hiko-nyan.
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