Festivals in Shizuoka Prefecture

O Taiko Festival at Toyotsumi Shrine in Yui, Shizuoka City!


Yesterday I spent the whole day in Yui to have a look at the Toyotsumi Shrine and the O Taiko/Japanese Drums Festival in Yui, Shimizu Ku, Shizuoka City!
Although it is a small, if not tiny festival, it is nonetheless important as it might be the oldest living Festival in Shizuoka Prefecture since it has been held since 977!


For all its small size the district (formerly a city of its own!) is still very proud of it!


Most participants these days belong to families tied with Yui fishing harbor and the sakura ebi/cherry shrimps and shirasu/sardine whiting trading!


Such families hang a paper lantern ourside their homes as the festival is held until late at night!
Unfortunately I had to back to to Shizuoka City by 6 p.m.
Next year I certainly plan to attend the last part of the festival held between midnight and half past midnight even if it means I have to sleep in the station until the first train in the morning!


The entrance to the Toyotsumi Shrine!


Big Drum Festival!

Thanks to the pictures you can’t miss it!


The “torii/鳥居/Shrine sacred bird gate (you will not find them at temples)!


Note the stone lanterns!


Old style stone plaque with the name of the shrines!


A monument marking the 1200th Anniversary of the Festival erected quite a few years ago!


I arrived there at 12:00, still 2 hours before the kids’ procession, which gave ample time to talk with the locals!


This kid actually volunteered for the picture!


The well of the shrine!


For the history buffs!
This shrine was erected by a local nobleman to thank the gods for a battle victory in 971 and the first festival was held in 977!


The shrine main building!


The “mon/文” of the shrine!


This mon representing a fan was the mon of the nobleman who erected this shrine!


The main drum used for the festival!


Japanese sake is an important feature at shrines at is originally meant “Food of the Gods”!
This particular sake “Shosetsu/正雪” is produced by Kanzawagawa Brewery in Yui!


More information for the history buffs!


The fountain you will find in any shrine to wash your hands before praying for good fortune!


One of the two lion guards!


Some of the trees there are truly enormous and ancient! I wonder how many generations they have witnessed passing by!
I truly wish some of them could talk!


After the visit to the shrine I had lunch with a friend to sample the local sakura ebi kakiage.
When I came back the kids procession had already started under tight supervision as the main road is narrow and cars are a certain risk!


The kids certainly didn’t mind being hemmed in!


Cute little girls!


Adults taking part in the second procession were giving a hand!


The kids said hello to me in English! One of them even said, “this is Japanese samba!”!


Kids took turns to lustily hit the drum!


A volunteer warden!


While the kids were holding thier procession the adults had a drink or two inside the shrine!


The kids finally arriving back at the shrine after a two-hour procession!


These two young adults carried the drum for them all the time!


Some kids were still willing to hit the drum!


A fire was waiting for those sensitive to the cold!


At around 4:30 the participants got ready for the adults evening procession!


Some practice for the photographers!


The evening procession finally taking off!


The procession moving on to the encouraging chants of the older participants!


A great way to keep yourselves warm!


Coming out of the shrine street!
The procession turned into the street to greet the houses of the participatat and sponsors!


Taking turns at the drum!


Food and drinks being prepare at the abode of one of the sponsors!


Waiting for the procession!


Japanese soul food!



Great concept for a party!

See at midnight same day next year!

Toyotsumi Shrine/豊積神社

The exact address is 静岡県静岡市清水区由比町町屋原185/Shizuoka Prefecture, Shimizu Ku, Yui Machi, Machiharaya, 185.
Get down at Yui JR Station and walk down the road on your right hand side. Walk past the harbor, turn left after Ando Dental Clinic and walk up all the way.

Held from January 1st at noon to the 3rd at 00:30 a.m.!
Daidogei Street Performers Festival in Shizuoka City 2013 (November 1st~4th) 1


Masaaki Koga, the Man who made it all possible!

The 2013 version of the Shizuoka Daidogei has finally kicked off in bright sunshine and I took the opportunity to take a few pictures as the long week-end will be a real tussle!


A small marching band?


Like the years before faint painting was one of the most popular events right from the beginning!


True colors?


A pixie?


An elf?


A loving couple!


Even the models were highLy concentrated!


Photographer being photographed!


Hey! What’s this?


Giant ostrich!


Beware the fowl!


Plenty of clowns of all ages everywhere!


Ready for the picture?


masaaki Koga and his troops/troupes looking forward to meeting you tomorrow again!
Daidogei Street Performers Festival in Shizuoka City 2013 (November 1st~4th) 2


Lucie Brouillard, face painting artist from Quebec!

The weather today being markedly cooler than yesterday encouraged me to have a look at what happening in downtown Shizuoka City during the second day of the 2013 version of Daidogei Street performers Festival!
Bear in mind that I’m only interested in the “side shows”, leaving the main show with the professional guests in Sumpu Park to other geeks!


I was supposed to meet friends of Shizuoka JR Station who never turned up but I was lucky enough to take a pic of this Japanese acrobat couple’s last gig!


A mime/clown from Chile!


The marching was still here!


Another bunch of clowns!


The ostriches were still there, too!


Lucie Brouillard, my favorite side show artist at work!


This mother actually requested a penguin to dhow her kid!


Pixie mother and daughter!


Nail painting!
For adults!


More nail painting!
For kids!


Young male bodies….


A great way to entice customers!


Who are the real kids?


Face drawings apparently done by art students!


This pantomime is a regular feature year after year and is getting more and more attention from onlookers and the media!


A frightening centipede from South Korea!
I heard that they also performed in my own hometown’s Street Performers Festival in Chalon Sur Saone, France last July, which is also visited every year by Masaaki Koga, the chief organizer of this Festival in Shizuoka City!


The kid didn’t care a fig!
25th (and last?) Shizuoka Mikoshi Festival


Yesterday afternoon I experienced a great surprise and some disappointment at the same time….

Festivals are an integral part of Japanese life and culture.
But why are they so little advertised in some cities?
Unfortunately Shizuoka City is one of the culprits.
In the whole day I espied only one other expat when there should be droves of them!


For all the official attendance of Shizuoka City Mayor, Nobuhiro Tanabe/田辺 信宏, the participans confide me that next year it would not be possible to hold a 26th event in the same form for lack of subsidies form Government Agencies…
To think that Shizuoka Prefecture is said to be actively promoting tourism.
I didn’t even know about the event after more than 36 years of residence and I discovered it yesterday because I had changed my schedule at the last second!
And it took place for 4 hours in a row all over the center of Shizoka City along Aoba Street, Gofuku Cho Street and Shichiken Cho Street!


In spite of it all Satoko Sanada/眞田里子さん was doing some great work announcing it all to the public!


At least the sake was on hand! (Mind you, not Shizuoka City sake, but Hamamatsu City sake by Hana No Mai Brewery!)



The Mikoshi Festival still has an Association! I hope they will still find a way next year!




Well, the younger generations are still hopeful!


Great kid!


I had arrived just in time for the preparations in Aoba Park Street before the real start of the festivities!


I took advantage of the waiting to take some shots of the participants!


All waiting quietly!


Let me do it for you, kiddo!


There were 7 mikoshi/お神輿 from Shizuoka City and 1 from Toyohashi City in Aichi Prefecture.
The great majority of the participants are connected with lumber and construction businesses.


Posing for the ladies?


Old hands taking it easy!


Great “happi/半被” design!


Colorful butterflies!


The lady on the left wears a happi emblazoned with a “aoi/葵/hollyhock” crest, that of Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu!




These ladies’ long happi could become a new fashion fad!


Proud participants!


Still waiting…


Let’s have a look at the mikoshi while we have some time!


If you look carefully you will realize they are a miniature copy of real shrines!


Bear in mind that these mikoshi were made by lumber workers and wood craft artisans!


This one was topped with a Japanese phoenix!


Can you see etched against the background?


This one, too!


I love dragons!


I really love dragons!


Almost ready…


Last recommendations and encouragements by the organising committee and the Mayor!


At last the parade/procession is being launched!


Headed by the singers!


This young lady seems to enjoy the whole event for more than one reason!


Maybe a bit older but enjoying every moment of it!


These old guys seem to know they have a long way ahead of them!


Good team work!


With their eyes kept on the leaders!


Slowly but steadily warming up to the event!


Ambling in cadence through the crowd!


Great smile!


Strong ladies!


Stopped by a traffic light…


Hold it a bit more, guys!


Handsome gentleman for the lady photographers!


As strong as a man!


And certainly more beautiful!


Proud old men!


Encouraged all the way by the youngest generation!
There is still plenty of hope for great traditions!


The Daidogei/Street performance World Cup is back in shizuoka City!
A major Festival which photographers and circus lovers must not miss!
It will take place on the first week end of November from the 1st (Friday) to the 4th (Monday (National Holiday).


15 guest artists will be featured but many more performers from Shizuoka, Japan and the world will participate.


Artists will be performing near the Shizuoka JR Station, along Gofuku Cho, Aoba and Shichiken-Cho Streets, in Tokiwa park and Sumpu Castle Park (the latter for an entry fee).


There are many other features to be enjoyed such as face paiting, food an drink stands, and much more as it is a real festival!


The 15 guests will be Kharitonov Brothers, Jugglers from Russia, Ballet on the shoulder from China, Naked Lunch, acrobats from Ireland & the US, Duo Pospelov, acrobats from Ukraine, The Robot Boys, pantomime from Denmark,


Elastic, Comedy magician from Belgium, Sterza Family, Acrobatic Musicians from Italy & Kazakhstan, Mario & Sharon Berousek, MAGNAMUS, Acrobats from France & Norway, jugglers from the Czech Republic, Heloise & William, Acrobats from France & the US,


Chilly 6 Fly, Acrobats from Canada, Bello Knock, Acrobat comedian from the US. TOMCHUK, Acrobats from Ukraine and SKATING PILAR, Skates Acrobats from France, last year champions!

If you can read Japanese do consult the DAIDOGEI HOMEPAGE!
Shimada Obi Festival 1: Happi-Festival Coats


I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
this first part will be dedicated to “Happi/半被”, which could be translated as half coats and which are usually worn at Festivals or special occasions to show to which group you belong!
But there are also purely artistic Happi!


A classical design with a lion!


Another classical happi with a chain motif!


Another classical happi with a prawn motif at the top!


A more artistic happi with a stylized Kabuki Theater Face Painting!


Samurai Fight!


The broken mask of a Goblin/Oni called “Han Ya2 in Noh Theater!


A Dragon in the clouds!


A monk astride a Dragon!


Two beautiful artistic happis!
Let’s have a closer look!


River-crossing Lady!


A Phoenix, a Winged Horse/Pegasus and a Turtle in front of a red Mount Fuji!


A Dragon flying around Mount Fuji!


A scene representing a castle with a river, a bridge and a boat in the foreground!
Like a painting of yore!

Part 2 will be about the “faces of men” I met around the Festival!
Shimada Obi Festival 2: Faces of Men!


Behave yourself at Festival or I’ll get at you!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the faces of some men I mmet on purpose or by chance to give a good idea of what to expect at a Japanese Festival!


my good friend Hisatsugu Umehara/梅原詞さん who has been helping the fourth district (there are no less than 7 organizing the whole festival!) for the 7th time in a row! (Multiply by 3=18 years!)
Thanks to him I found great spots for photographs and was offered a wealth of information!


Don’t touch the sake without my permission!


Talking it easy at the office of the fourth district!


Obviously hasn’t recovered from last night drinking! (The festival lasts three days!)


One cup of sake per person only! Understood?


Different size, length and color!


Easy hairstyles?


(Comparatively) Handsome?


This chap would have been a hit with Medieval European ladies!


When you grow older, whiter and less abundant, sport a beard!


Windy or wavy hairstyle?


Proud to be a man!


11 am and already happily drinking!
Great smiles!



This lady will be featured again in Part 3: Faces of Ladies!
Shimada Obi Festival 3: Faces of Ladies


The cutest ladies at the festival? Definitely the most serious about it!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the faces of some ladiesI met on purpose or by chance to give a good idea of what to expect at a Japanese Festival!


Flaming hair!


Well, no world is perfect….


The same standing. Brrrrr…….


Always on the phone, even in the company of a boyfriend!


These two ladies selling at a food stand were certainly having a good time!


The color of their hair is a sign of their seriousness!


We’ll see many more of these with such grand hairstyles!


“Fans” with fans waiting for the clash of chariots!


Parade dancers having a break.


Looking after the younger generation.


It was a very hot and dry day. Every respite was welcome!


Heads up! Time is coming soon to dance again!


My favorite picture!


Here they come!


Tigerish hairstyle?


I know, I know! I do like her!


A bodyline to make a lot of foreign tourists jealous!


It all might looks eanough but I can assure you all this dancing was extremely strenuous!


I’m so bleeding tired…..

Part 4 is about the KIDS!
Shimada Obi Festival 4: The Kids!


The best picture of the day!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the many kids I had the pleasure to (all pictures were agreed with!) to give a good idea of what to expect at a Japanese Festival!

I basically divided the many pictures along themes for easier viewing:


With the mascot!


Teaching by example?


Hungry and waiting for the parade to come.


It was a bit too hot for the kids that day!


Tired and hungry.


Eager to participate!


So well-behaved!


Aren’t we beautiful?


These are tough kids who had to walk no less than 1.7 km a day for 3 days in a row!
Also very tough for the parents who walked behind in holiday finery!


Mind you they were looked after, what with portable stools during the many stops and caretakers looking after all your needs!


Even on the third day many kids were still having a ball of a day!


A bit tougher for the bigger kids who also looked after the wee ones!


Some still couldn’t hide their fatigue!


Note the mothers following their kids in 30 degrees Celsius heat!


How far do we still have to go Mum?


Let’s have a break, shall we?


Well, that kid is certainly enjoying himself all year round!


Horse Lord 1!


Horse Lord 2!


Horse Lord 3!


Lucky boy! I wouldn’t mind being reined in by such grand ladies!


The festival chariots also served as dancing stages where incredibly clad kids form 4 to 9 years old performed traditional Japanese dances to the sound of instruments and singers’ voices!


The dancers had to be carried on a strong man’s back up onto and down form the stages!



Dancing genius 1!


Dancing genius 2!


Dancing genius 3!


Dancing genius 4 making his final salute!

All this is hungry and thirsty work so I will take you to the Festival Food Stnads in Part 5!
Shimada Obi Festival 5: The Food Stands!


Brochettes, brochettes, brochettes!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the food the Japanese take for granted at a Japanese Festival or such events! It becomes nothing less than a giant BBQ!


Like any city worth its salt in Japan and furthermore staging a major festival or event a very large space will be made available for visitors to refresh and feed themselves (as well as relieve themselves).
This space in Shimada City is either used for open-air events, festivals or as a supplementary car park.
As cars are prohibited form entering the town center during the the 3-day festival, the space is just ideal.
The sign reads: “”One of the Three Unusual Festivals in Japan. Welcome. 107th Shimada Big Festival/Obi Festival”!


Not only the city provides the space for the food stands to be erected along its perimeter but it also provides the tents, chairs, tables and plastic white table cloths for visitors to eat and drink comfortably under the searing sun in day time or eventual rain!


They also install large trash boxes regularly emptied and cleaned all day long by city workers!
The trash boxes are divided for “Bottles (glass) & Cans”, “Burnable Trash”, “Trash to be Incinerated (heavier than the former)” and “Plastic Pet Bottles (soda, etc,)”!

OK, let’s go around the food stands!


Charcoal-grilled “ayame” trouts!


Naturally sausages are a must!


It is also a good time to sample specialties from all over Japan: Oita (Kyushu) style stir-fried chicken!


Hiroshima-style noodles, pasta, Yaki, Okonmiyaki!




Fujinomiya City has made Shizuoka famous all over the country for its Yakisoba/Stir-fried noodles!


These disappear within a blink of the eye!


Plenty of draft beer available!


Tai Yaki (seabream-shaped pancakes containing anko/sweet meat beans) for the kids and sweet teeth!


Giant nikuman/large dumplings made of steamed bread and pork. I had the bottom one made with Shizuoka tea!


Fried sweet potato and potato sticks!


Whirly sausages!


Spicy stir-fried chicken!


I also had one of these Osaka-style takoyaki/dumplings containing octopus!


More pork kushiyaki/brochettes!


Cotton candy!
In France we call them “daddy’s beard”!


Not a food stand actually, but a soft drinks and kids game stand!


Another BBQ staple: deep-fried potato brochette, broiled corn and deep-fried sweet potato sticks!


This particular charcoal-grilles sausages and pork brochetttes stand had a constant 20-people queue stretching in front of it!


Chorizo sausage pizzas!


Giant crepes! Sweeeeeeeeeet!


Oden! A shizuoka specialty!


Karaage/Deep-fried chicken!


Baked sweet potato cakes!


Drinks! Including Shizuoka sake! Shimada city is famous all over Japan for its “Onna Nakase/Make a Woman Cry” sake brand!


Mexican sausage and potato tortilla!


Kawane green tea!
Shizuoka produces more than 45% of all green tea in Japan!


These two ladies were having a ball selling miso mochi!
Just another proof that sexiness is ageless!

We will go back to the action in Part 6: “The Clash Of The Chariots”!
Shimada Obi Festival 6: The “Clash” of the Chariots


Make way!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the so-called clash of the chariots (not real floats) and all its fun!


Dai Nikai Yatai/Second district Chariot

The Chariots/Yatai seen during the Shimada Obi Festival are chariots more than floats.
Shimada City counts seven districts, Dai/第 Ichi, Ni, san, Yon, Go, Roku and Nana Kai/街.
The first six districts look after their own chariot which is also used as theater platform where plays are enacted by local kids.
The seventh district is in charge of the Lord Parade/Daimyou Gyooretsu!


Lovely fans of the Dai Nikai/Second district!

Although each chariot, after “having received permission from the other districts” is allowed to mave along the main district past all districts.


More lovely fans of the Dai Nikai!

But the fans will stay inside their own District to cheer their chariot as it passes them by.


The “movers”!

Although the chariots are mounted on wheels, these same wheels are more of wood and metal and are fixed to the frame. They do not roll!
One main reason for that is that a free-wheeling chariot is just too unstable to control.
Hence the armies of “movers”!


Now, this is tough work to ensure three days in a row!

Each “mover” is armed with a long pole made of a solid tree trunk cut at a slant at its base.
The poles will be used to lift and push the chariots from any side as thick tree trunks are fixed to the bottom frame just above ground!


Whereas at other times of the day the chariots will become the theater stages, in the morning they are paraded along the main street to the sounds of drum and Japanese fife players sitting inside!


The rope pullers of the Dai Ni Kai!

On the other hand teams of young men will pull the chariots with long ropes to help move forward.
But when it comes to moving sideways the “movers” will take care of the show!


The Fourth/Dai Yon Kai District pullers having a break!


Getting ready!


A last re-adjustment before the pull!


A few more details to take care of!


the “cheerleaders” standing on the roof, sticks in hands!
Notice that they are all light-weight!


The fans’ fans!


The Dai Yon Kai Chariot about to start!


The Dai Ni Kai Chariot about to star, too!
The whole affair is to manage to have two chariots moving along each other in different directions without any mishaps!
Not easy!


Still waiting to start…


Just a few more seconds…


Start the drums!


Moving forward at a slant needs so much physical synchronization!


Now the “problem” is starting! Both teams must absolutely ensure the very close by-passing!


The “clash” is beginning!
Actually it is all carefully planned banter.
The two chariots “riders” will scream at each other to leave the way or move aside.
There will be no real fight in spite of the very “serious” faces of the participants.
But in the rare occasion when the chariots do hit each other by accident older members will immediately run between the handlers and shout them away from each other in no uncertain words!
The police is invisible at such times and the citizens handle themselves!


The “riders” guiding the “pullers” and Movers” sideways to the sounds of sticks and whistles!


The “movers” concentrate on their task as if nothing was happening…
Mind you, they are well armed! LOL


Handlers waiting patiently while riders are screaming at each other!


In the meantime some young pullers are having their own fun!


C’mon guys! Let’s go with it!


Unrelenting drumming during all that time!


Some young ladies were very serious at it!


Move aside, will ya!


Now that we getting closer the “movers” are waiting for the “directions”…


It is the turn of the riders to frantically scream at each other while directing their respective chariots!


careful guys, careful!


Move aside!


Steady! Steady!


Very little leeway, I can assure you!


All the time the fans’ fans in a frenzy!


The last scramble!


Safely through, but look at those “stares”!

Part 7 will the daimyou Gyouretsu/Lord Parade close the show!
Shimada Obi Festival 7: Daimyou Gyouretsu-The Lord Parade


The Sabres Dancer!

I finally went to watch the Shimada Obi Festival today where I took literally hundred of pictures and have to divide this report on of the strangest/unusual festivals in Japan into many parts!
This report is about the last section of the festival and features the nationally famous Sabre Dancers!!


the Daimyou Gyouretsu/大名行列 is the sole responsibility of the Dai Nana Kai/第七街/Seventh District and come last after all the chariots, stage dancers and parades have come through since 8:30 a.m. They usually start between 13:00 and 14:30 depending on the day.


Onlookers were sitting on the kerb a good hour before the scheduled Parade!


They are very strict about the organisation and young members ensure that there isn’t the slightest impediment.
I was told in no uncertain term by a metal cane wielding young man to move to the sides well before the parad actually reached my spot!


The “leaders” are extremely proud of their prerogatives, even by Japanese standards.
This is after all the aristocratic part of the festival and in Edo times they were far more obvious about their power and authority as the local Lord and his retainers paraded for real!


The first herald!


The lancers!


The Lord’s mark of authority carried inside portable boxes!


Heavy stuff actually!


Those two kids are supposed to represent the two most powerful retainers!


The archers!


Kids have also taken the place of the Lord and his sons on horses!
And horse handlers are now ladies!


The Lord parading past a cake shop!


Most of the lower ranked retainers parade is enacted by children!


Those dancers are a modern addition!


The hairstyles were vastly different, then! LOL


At least these kids are not taking it all too seriously!


The Overlord was pulled along atop a small float.


Bow to the Lord!


Taking a rest and being re-groomed!


No parade would come along without its music band!


A rare smile from the handlers who seemed to enjoy themselves more than some uppity “retainers”!


Even the lord seemed more amenable to his subjects!


Another Lord with lady handlers!


At last the ones all had been waiting!
The Sabre dancers!
This was makes the unique name and fame of this festival in the whole of Japan!
Enormous obi/sashes are wrapped around giant swords secured by sashes around the dancers’ waists.


All the dancers carry different obi/sashes wrapped around their swords.
The “apron” is also unique.
All are made of expensive silk. They carry a real fortune along which is is displayed only for three days every three years!
The Parade is a very expensive a affair to take charge of. Therefore it has been held every 3 years ony for 107 times!


The dancing is also a tough challenge along the 1.7 km ( 1 mile) main road which takes more than two hours.
To think they go through that three days in a row!


The Dancers have to hold an umbrella (they certainly need it in the heat!) with one hand, make big waves with the other hand and raised the knees high with every step!


Tough for photographers who are not allowed to stand or walk in front or across the Parade!


Not so many onlookers on the sunny side of the road which could burn your skins in a jiffy, but one couldn’t walk on the shady side between the Parade and the houses along the street!


Some of them were obviously tired!


Tough work to raise your knees under that heavy apron!


Tough work too to raise your arm above the shoulder and make a circling wave back and forward!


Helpers were carrying low stools on which they could rest every time the parade had to stop!


A well-earned rest!
Mind you, even in such a sitting position it must be tough to carry all that finery along!


Fortunately an army of handlers were here to give plenty of support, water and encouragements!


One thing was sure, all had strong legs!
The dancers are basically different every three years as it is a very sought after honor!


This particular dancer was very popular with the crowd as he took often the time to look and wink at them. Note the whiskers!


There was plenty more to follow including the brandishing and throwing of decorated poles but I was running out of batteries!


A common feature to top-class Japanese Festivals!


I hope that in three years’ time technology will have evolved enough to make it a film of it all without fear of running out of batteries!
Coming Festival: Shimada Obi Matsuri (October 12th, 13th, 14th, 2013)


Shimada Obi Matsuri Statue at Oi Shrine in Shimada City!

Every city worth its salt in Japan has a major festival to boast from.
Shimada City not only has one, but it has been officially named one of the so-called three most unusual festivals in Japan!: the Shimada Obi Matsuri and its Daimyo Procession.


This is a major festival in japan!

Not only it is a major festival but although this year will see its 107th edition, it is staged only every 3 years!
So do not miss it! It was held for the first time in 1609.
Some incredible pictures to be taken!


The poster in front of Shimada JR Station!

The procession will take place in the north half of the city, so do get off the Station from the North Exit!


The 300-year old Daimyo Gyoretsu imitates the procession of a grand jumangoku (one hundred thousand koku, units of rice) daimyo, and a total of 250 marchers stretch over 500 meters. Particularly striking is the presence of oyakko who walk gracefully, carrying an obi for safe delivery of babies on the tip of a wooden sword.
The procession is held every three years, in the years of the tiger, snake, monkey and wild boar.

Here are samples of pictures you could take on that day!




Coming Festival: Mage Matsuri-髷祭 in Shimada City (September 15th, 2013)!


if you have the chance to be in Shimada City this Sunday do not miss this unusual Festival!
It is called the Shimada mage Festival!
Mage means “Hair bending” ( a poor English translation I must admit!), that is the tradtiional way to set hair in Japan!


Even little girls participate!

This very peculiar festival is held on the third Sunday, shine or rain, of September every year.
This year will the 56th edition!


It was first held on September 9th, 1933!
Some ladies wear wigs, but most participants spend the morning setting their at a local “hairdresser”!
Yo will be able to admire them between roughly 13:00 and 16:00 at Oi Shrine (大井神社), in front of Shimada Hospital and Udaji Temple (鵜田寺).

For more (very interesting pictures) consult the following BLOG!

2012 Shizuoka Festival Food Stands and Dancers!

Cute lady selling dango/団子!

The last three days saw the annual Shizuoka Festival which was held all over town.
It is slowly becoming better organized thanks to contributions from the whole Prefecture and volunteer citizens, although the city and authorities do very little…
Anyway yesterday, a beautiful Sunday, I took the opportunity to take a few (a lot actually) pictures to show you all what a local (in Shizuoka City) festival looks like!

I first went to the Sumpu Castle (a 2/3 scale copy of the original) and Sumpu Park!

The entrance to the main “square” where most of the food stands were located.

The map of the whole park!

A small traditional band manned by physically-impaired children!

Tough-looking girls on the Japanese drums!

Drummers start young in Japan!

Unimpressive and idle Shizuoka policemen…
Shizuoka policemen (actually traffic wardens in spite of their guns and plates…) are notorious as a lazy breed…

Now, what is that castle for?

A giant air cushion for kids to play on!

Fancy a tour with a “jinrikisha”?

Some people also call this Festival the “Shizuoka Spring Cherry Blossoms festival”!

These knee-high stockings are very much in fashion this year!

Plenty of food and drinks under the cherry trees! Ever heard of “Hanami/花見”?

Bento stand!

Japanese-style country food!

Yomogi wagashi Japanese cakes!

Shizuoka Oden!

Tsubuan Manju!

Shizuoka-style okonomiyaki!

Floating balls for the kids!

Try your luck!

Shizuoka specialties: dried sakura ebi/cherry shrimp and shirasu/sardine whiting!

A treat that kids all over the world look for!

More Shizuoka Oden!

Very well organized event with many public dustbins!

Kimonos are still very much in fashion!

A whole range of fancy okonmiyaki!

Japanese-style soft ice creams!

Korean-style karaage/deep-fried chicken!

Preparing o mochi and kinako wagashi cakes!

More okonomiyaki!

No, they are not selling kangaroo meat!

Shizuoka is strawberry country!

The Japanese too love their hamburgers!


Famous Shizuoka’s Hatsukame sake!

Takoyaki/Octopus dumplings!
I took a break to enjoy some with a cup of the above sake!

Charcoal-grilled ayame and ayu trouts!


Hiroshima-style Suwaganiten and nigiriten!

Utsunomiya gyoza!

Japanese-style corn on the cob!

Mini okonomiyaki?

More Shizuoka-style oonomiyaki!


Giant Sasebo (Kyushu) hamburgers!

Yakitori and oden!

“Love and Peace Ice Cream”!

I finally moved out to a quick look at Aoba Park Street where the kids were having on giant air cushions!

Right in front of the city hall! I suspect that many a civil servant’s kid was there!

And then I walked and made myself a nuisance taking pics of dancing groups in the middle of the main thoroughfare!

Sexy dancers! Sorry for the fuzzy pic, I was not really looking at my camera….

Mothers and kids waiting for their turn!

The Japanese love to be taken in photographs but the setting sun was a bit of a nuisance!

Is that a gentleman in the middle?

My personal first prize for colorful costumes!

The last pic!

Looking for and forward to the next local festival!
Japanese Festivals: Mishima Taisha/三嶋大社

There are many interesting festivals in Shizuoka Prefecture and it is great fun as they offer a glimpse on true traditional Japan as well on a culture that will never fade away whatever the times.
Mishima Taisha Matsuri/三嶋退社祭/Mishima Shinto Temple Festival takes place during the third week of August (15th~17th this year) to coincide with the O-Bon Festival.
So I took a fast train this morning from Shizuoka City and got off at Mishima JR Station to enjoy the sights.
Follow, if you please!

True to say, as soon as I came out of the station, a parade had just entered the same street!

At 11:30 a.m. it was already blistering hot (over 30 degrees Celsius!) but the kids kept fanning the participants!

Tough work to pull that chariot along!

And playing music on top of it was even hotter!

I’m sure they could done better with the water of that well (a pun?)!

Volunteers at crossroads made sure everyone went the right way!

Mishima City is celebrated all over Japan for its eel restaurants dotting the streets!

Another one!

Another well for thirsty people!

The streets were lined with “yatai/屋台/stands well before the entrance to the Shrine!

These cold drinks should sell quickly!

Sakurabou/long pink light bread!

Shaved ice!

The torii/鳥居/gates for the birds. Such gates are the entrances of Shinto Shrines, never at those of Budhist Temples.

We know we are there!

Sake keg from Hana no Mai Brewery in Hamamatsu City. Unfortunately there is no longer any sake brewery in Mishima City!

More stands inside the premises before the actual entrance to the Shrine. Fujinomiya City-style Yakisoba!


The Park is worth visiting at any time of the year!

Goldfish catching!

A photographer’s paradise (a pun again?)?

The real entrance to a Shinto Shrine is marked with a “giant straw belt”!

A young girl going bananas? We haven’t passed through the entrance yet!

Fukutarou “Happiness” buns!

A secondary entrance through the wall surrounding the Shrine. The blazing sun was starting interfering with the photography!

Clean water is available to wash your hands before the entrance of any Shinto Shrine!

Next year is the Year of the Horse!

If the chrysanthemum of the “mon/seal” has 16 petals, the Shrine is part of the Japanese Emperor’s Cult!

What’s happening there? We’ll check later!

It is always worth it to nose around a large Shinto Shrine: Ikebana/生け花/Flowerarrangement!

Hidden gardens…

Portable fireworks!

Back to that event!

But let’s go around it first! What a blazing sun!

Impressive roofs!

Imperial “mon”!

This roof really looks like a helmet!

Your future for 200 yen (2.20 US$)!

The ladies selling at a Shrine stand/shop are supposed to be virgins…
Look at her headgear!

Knotting one’s wishes for the coming year…

Now, why are these three gentlemen dressed in Edo Era’s garb?

Those ancient clothes are certainly very elaborate!

I see! A (very solemn) tea ceremony!

The ancient shoes of the three gentlemen! Like their clothes, they must cost a fortune!

An illustrious unknown?

I walked across the other side of the gardens surrounding the Shrine on my way back to discover more stands. Japanese karaage/deep-fried chicken! Certainly better than those of that fake army officer!

Charcoal-grilled ayu trouts!

Cute young girls in yukata/summer kimono waiting for their yakisoba!

Such trees at Shinto Shrines are venerated as symbols of virility and fertility!

Now, I fancy these yakitori!

There are plenty of secondary shrines on the premises near waterways and small bridges!

There was another parade chariot at the side entrance with some good percussion music!

But the old guy was already probably thinking about all the Japanese sake sitting beside him!

Now, getting this chariot was sheer brutal work in that heat! It took them three tries before they could manage inching forward!

Walking around the park back to the station is also worth the effort!

Beautiful water running down from nearby Mount Fuji!

The wild ducks certainly love it!

A small bridge turned into a personal garden!

Plenty of clean water to safely play in!

Young ladies certainly welcomed the fresh water!

Whole families were thus escaping from the heat!

i could have stayed hours in such surroundings!

In Japan, always keep a look for English signs!
I know that the Japanese are probably the longest living people in the World but I still wonder…

Back at the station, all these lanterns announced the Festival. Pity I couldn’t stay still night!

There was even an on-going Japanese drum concert by a whole host of teams!


3 thoughts on “Festivals in Shizuoka Prefecture”

  1. Hello / Konichiwa,

    My wife and I are tea-enthuseists from Washington State, USA. We have visited Japan 4 times for a total of about 2 months, so far. On our last trip, two years ago, we visited Shizuoka and Kanaya, going to the World Tea Museum, visiting the O-Cha Plaza in Shizuoka and falling in love with your beautiful area….

    Now we are planning another visit there in April, this time accompanied by our 18 year-old granddaughter, also a “tea-lover”. We hope to gain information and assistance to attend the Kanaya Tea Matsuri on April 12 and 13 and plan to take our granddaughter to the Kanaya World Tea Museum also.

    However, we are handicapped by a lack of fluency in your Japanese language and are having difficulties in trying to find out more about the Matsuri event. If you can be of any assistance in this, or pass the information on to others who can, and if you can help in providing any internet links to others who could help, we would greatly appreciate it.

    We would also love to have the aid of someone, a student perhaps, who would go with us to the Matsuri and the Tea Museum and aid in translation and have a chance to practice her english with us, in the process. If you could suggest a way to make such a connection, that too would be wonderful…feel free to pass this message along in these regards…

    Thanking you in advance for your time and efforts, I am, sincerely,

    Don Stephens

    1. Dear Don!
      I’ll tell you what: On April 13th as I would be interested in covering the festival myself, I can spend the day guiding you around for the sole pleasure of it! As for the 12th I can’t promise you anything, but if I’m not free I’ll prepare a plan for you either in Shizuoka City or somewhere else!
      My personal phone number is (81)9041977698 and my mobile number address is rgm-dragon-06@ezweb.ne.jp
      If you want more information on Shizuoka check my other blog at http://shizuokagourmet.com/
      All the best!
      Robert-Gilles (Martineau)

  2. A belated return of greetings!

    Dear Dragonlife,

    I apologize for being so slow in answering you…too much to do in preparing for the trip…

    I want to thank you for your most generous offer, and inquire if it is still available…If so, is there an email at which we could correspond off-blog, for reasons of privacy?

    We are looking forward to being in Shizuoka again and to the possibility of meeting you. I will anticipate your direct reply..to
    my email address: dongreenershelter@hotmail.com

    – Don

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