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Folk dancing and plastic food

JAPAN | Friday, 1 August 2014 | Views [388]

Gujo dance festival - spot the fluffy dog!!

Gujo dance festival - spot the fluffy dog!!

Each year for the past 400 years, the villagers of Gujo-Hachiman have taken to the streets for a dancing festival called O-Bon. It originated from Shinto-Buddhist religious beliefs that ancestors' spirits return from the dead for a few days around the seventh month of the (lunar) year. Lanterns are lit to welcome them. The dance is to show happiness for this and to remember the kindness and selflessness of relatives now deceased. 
The streets are closed and, for 32 nights, packed with villagers performing a number of different folk dances in traditional kimonos and wooden clog-like flip-flops, accompanied by a band who drum, flute, chant, shout and sing. It was a bit like a Japanese line dance, and it looked easier than it was!
When the ancestors' spirits are ready to return, bonfires or fireworks are lit to see them on their way. It is a very special time in Japan, and different villages celebrate in slightly different ways. 

In another of those ancient-meets-modern contrasts, this little town of Gujo is also where plastic food was invented and in the daytime you can make your own realistic-looking tempura, seaweed-wrapped shrimp, or piece of tofu. (A lot of the restaurants in Japan display their menus by using this plastic food. And yes, it does look tasty!)

Tags: folk festival, gujo, japanese festival


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