Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Nariakira, Day 2

Turns out that the Nariakira Festival (called Rokugatsu-gou) runs two days.  I'd gotten an email from one of my Japanese friends telling me to go visit it before it ended at 10 PM, so I did.  There are a few night-only festivals in Japan, and this seems to be one of them.  This time, I got to Terakuni Shrine at 8 PM, when things were still going at their peak.  Which was kind of the problem - the streets were so crowded and people moving and stopping so randomly, I was constantly guarding against getting stepped on.  The cane became something of a barrier fence, and if anyone got to close (which was all the time) I'd lift the foot to turn it into less of a target.  This time, there were some fireworks, with the launch site to the north side of the temple grounds and lasting about 10 minutes.  Nothing really spectacular, but I was surprised at how much I missed the smell of burned gunpowder.

The ikebana exhibit was still set up, so I decided to try out the new camera on the more interesting displays.  The harsh overhead lighting in the middle of the night sky really washed out the colors, making a couple of the photos useless.

The traditional dances ran a couple of hours, and all of the performers had very colorful outfits.  It was hard getting close enough to the stage to get good shots that weren't blocked by trees or overhead power cords.  Most of the performers looked to be over 40, with many in their 60's or 70's.  In at least one case, a member of the group was called forward by the announcer and handed an envelope.  No idea what was in it, but I'm assuming it was a cash award for performing above a particular skill level.  Some of the groups were all-female, while others were co-ed.

In yesterday's post, I'd included a shot of one of the street stalls.  These stalls tend to be very similar from festival to festival, taking three main forms - food stalls, games of chance, and toys/masks.  The toy stalls this time focused mainly on spinning disks with lots of flashing LEDs; very colorful.  The masks were from popular TV shows or movies, including Anpanman, Purecure and Spiderman.  Games included pulling goldfish or plastic balls out of a pool of water with a paper paddle, rotating a wheel to pop out a black or white marble, and taking a folded piece of paper from a box.  Lots of different foods - from okonomiyaki on a stick, to shaved ice, and grilled squid to chilled pineapple slices.  I'd already eaten dinner, so I wasn't hungry at the time.  Which is ok because most of the food at these stalls is overpriced and konbini quality only.

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