Oct 232012
Mikawa Miya Matsuri (day 1)

Festival in Mikawa Miya—a small village on the shore of Pacific Ocean—has all rights to be called the most colorful in Japan.

On the first day, participants present their dance and arts as an offering to the shrine.

But the main event is towing massive parade floats into the sea, which takes place on the second day.

Oct 022012
Kii Tanabe Benkei Matsuri

Town of Tanabe in Kii Province (currently Wakayama Prefecture) is where two masters of martial arts were born – legendary 12th-century warrior monk Musashibo Benkei and creator of Aikido – Morihei Ueshiba.

Early in October, the town holds a festival commemorating Benkei. Main character is an amateur actor chosen from among the citizens to perform a historical stage play on the first day.

Second day starts with Yosakoi Odori performance, but the most entertaining part is street dance in clogs performed by townspeople.

Aug 292012
Hot Samba Carnival in the heat of Tokyo's summer

A flock of penguin-dressed Japanese dancing Brazilian samba in front of a 1400 year old Buddhist temple.

Does that sound ridiculous? Believe it or not, this is August in Tokyo.

Brazil is bound to Japan with historical ties. It was the country that attracted majority of Japanese emigrants in the beginning of 20th century. And nowadays, descendants of those people constitute a large group of immigrants to Japan.

Next year, the Asakusa Samba Carnival will mark its 30th anniversary.

Aug 272012
Basara Matsuri – yosakoi odori in Nara

Basara Matsuri is a festival of modern dance organized in Nara since 1999.

Genres change at the speed of light. Folk dances through modern disco, turn into Arabian tunes, to finish with Chinese court dance in hip-hop style.

Young and old, men and women, in big and small groups, in diverse multicolor attires and face-paintings, sway and bend their bodies to the music from squawking speakers powered by Diesel engines.

From this hotchpotch, often crossing the boundaries of kitsch, only joy, effort, and expression of participants remain in memory.

Jul 252012
Awa odori at the Kagurazaka Matsuri

Kagurazaka is a neighborhood in Shinjuku. It abounds with foreigners, but is also a place where Tokyo geisha-houses are located.

In August a big festival is held here. It ends with a street performance of Awa Odori dance that originated in Tokushima prefecture on Shikoku island. In the evening, when summer heat subsides, groups of dancers display their skills in a few hour-long, lively parade.

May 152012
Mifune Matsuri – boat festival Heian-style

In a beautiful scenery of Arashiyama, a place in western Kyoto, a colorful festival takes place in the middle of May.

After religious ceremonies in Kurumazaki Jinja, the deity of the shrine is transferred to a boat. Then guests on other boats approach and pay homage. Musicians and artists in historical costumes from Heian period, perform dances and stage poetry competitions.