Hi everyone! This blog post will be about some of the festivals I’ve been to in Tokyo this summer. I will write about the Haneda Mikoshi Parade, Sumidagawa Fireworks Festival, and Bon Odori Dance Festival.
The Haneda Mikoshi Parade is part of the Haneda Matsuri festivities that usually occur at the end of July. At the Haneda Mikoshi Parade 14 mikoshi (portable shrines) from Haneda Shrine and some other local shrines are carried in a special way called Yokota, which resembles the swaying of a boat on large waves and is of historical and cultural value to Haneda, which used to be a fishing village.
I watched as the mikoshi were carried and swayed back and forth with gusto. Although the mikoshi are relatively small, many people are required to carry them because of the Yokota carrying style, which is no joke, I tell you! Watching this parade was one of the most intriguing things I have seen so far in my time in Japan. The Yokota carrying style is intense and best described with a video of the action going on, which I have provided a link to below.
The Sumidagawa Fireworks festival held at the end of July in Tokyo is one of the most popular fireworks festivals in Japan! It gets real crowded and it’s kind of hard to find a good spot to watch these pyrotechnic beauties (especially if you’re late like I was), but I was able to find a relatively good spot to watch the fireworks in Shiori Park (a 10 minute walk from Minami-Senju Station) rather than watch them from the super-duper crowded area close to Asakusa Station.
I also attended a Bon Odori Dance Festival at a shrine near my school in Shinjuku. Bon Odori Festivities usually occur in August and are part of the Bon Festival which honors the dead. According to Buddhist belief, the souls of the dead return to visit earth during this time. But this festival is not sad in the least! Though this is a time to remember one’s ancestors, it’s also a time when family and friends get together and have fun! At Obon Odori dance festivals there are some folks who dance in the center who are the guides and a lot of people join the dance by simply mimicking their movements. Various songs are played; some traditional Japanese numbers, some J-pop and the like, and even some music in English! (I’m sure that one of the songs I heard was an ABBA song!!!). A few friends and I even joined the dancing! It was really fun and an exhilarating experience! I’ve included a link to a short video of one of the dances.
There really are so many interesting and fun things to do in Japan, but these festivals really can’t be beat!!! If you’re ever in Japan, I recommend going to see as many festivals as you can! Also, don’t be shy to join the activities going on at the festivals, such as the Bon Odori dancing. Things like this are the ultimate Japanese cultural experience! With that in mind, in my next blog post, I’ll write about the real Japanese cultural experience – my everyday life as a student at a Japanese language school! Ja, mina-san, mattane! See you next time!