Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gionsai (A summer festival)

There is many festivals called "Gionsai" in Japan, and the most famous Gionsai is held in July in Kyoto on a yearly basis. The purpose of those festivals is to welcome God called "Susanoono Mikoto" and to ask him to keep diseases from spreading. 

 The nearest Gionsai that I could take part in was held in Tsuchiura city, and I came here by 15 minutes' train ride. The show was scheduled to begin at 7pm, so I was just waiting for a while in this piazza.

 People were standing by the street and some were having food at the table. It was a bit bright but suitable to take pics of the show as my camera is weak at taking dark scenery.

The first one was this "Shishimai" float. The meaning of "Shishimai" would be "The dance of a lion". This lion and dance allegedly came from China or India, but you could say it is now one of the traditional Japanese things.

 The second float was this. You can see some people on it playing instruments. The building behind the folat is a department store "Ito Yokado".

 The third one. As I saw one float after another, it got darker and darker. The masked man seemed to be from the Heian period(794-1192) or older. I know much about the Japanese history, but nobody could instantly tell which period his costume was based on.

And the fourth one was with a Hyottoko-like dancer. As I explained before, the expression of Hyottoko masks is based on one made during making fire with a bamboo pipe. His dance was as funny as clowns'.

There were sooo many people watching this pageant show, and I felt hot partly due to wading through this crowd. It was about 33 degrees Celsius, but basically no matter how you dislike the heat, the summer festivals should be enjoyed while you're sweating. 

I think those pictures aren't enough to tell you how those floats were moving around. So take a look at the video I uploaded below.