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vagabonds3 "Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow mindedness." Mark Twain

Takayama Matsuri Festival

JAPAN | Tuesday, 20 August 2019 | Views [124]

Festival Float crossing Red Bridge (from website)

Festival Float crossing Red Bridge (from website)

WE JUST REALIZED WHY WE SKIPPED TAKAYAMA in 2014.  The Takayama Matsuri, one of the three most popular festivals in Japan, was going on while we were in the area.  I don’t recall trying but I am sure we couldn’t have gotten reservations or even a seat on the train at that time.  It’s possible we intentionally skipped it — we’ve been know to give Carnival a miss in Rio because of the crowds and the cost.  


                Matsuri Festival Floats

Anyway, we are here now and spent the day experiencing the parade vicariously at the Festival Float Exhibition Hall.  The admission price is a little steep but nothing compared to what it would cost to be here on Festival days.  (I just saw on-line that a tour from the States to this year’s Autumn Matsuri costs $3000!)  There are actually two festivals.  The Sanno Festival parade in the spring has twelve yatai (floats) and the autumn Hachiman Festival parade has eleven yatai.  And it isn’t just the floats — there are dancers and costume lions and drums and puppets.  At night the floats are illuminated with as many as 100 paper lanterns.

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    Gyojin Tai Float                                Homei Tai Float

Four of the floats are on exhibit on a rotating basis in the Exhibition Hall along with costumed mannequins of the guys who push some floats, pull others, carry the altar and lead the each yatai.  Japan’s largest portable shrine (mikoshi) is also on exhibit.  Weighing in at 2½ tons, it takes two alternating teams of 40 men working in 15 minute shifts to carry. 

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    Mitoshi Portable Altar                      Rainy day cart   

As you walk through the Sanmachi-suji district, you may notice some very tall garages with fences in front where the floats not on exhibit are stored.  The exhibit hall has towering double doors to permit the floats to enter and leave.  And there is a special technique for making tight turns that involves a small auxiliary wheel.  Seems they’ve thought of everything.  There are even special wagons to substitute for the yatai in case of inclement weather.


                     Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine

The entry ticket also includes the idyllic Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine and the astonishing Sakurayama Nikkokan, with 100 year-old models of the shrines of Nikko.  I could have spent an hour in contemplation under the trees at the shrine.  We will wait until Friday when we are in Nikko to see how well Sakurayama Nikkokan mirrors the real thing.


                     Nikko in Miniature, 100 years old



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John and Connie, Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi

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