Shimada Obi Festival

Shimada Obi Festival 1: Happi-Festival Coats

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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!

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A classical design with a lion!

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Another classical happi with a chain motif!

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Another classical happi with a prawn motif at the top!

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

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Samurai Fight!

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

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A Dragon in the clouds!

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A monk astride a Dragon!

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

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River-crossing Lady!

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

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A Dragon flying around Mount Fuji!

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

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

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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!

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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!

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Don’t touch the sake without my permission!

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Talking it easy at the office of the fourth district!

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

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One cup of sake per person only! Understood?

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Different size, length and color!

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Easy hairstyles?

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(Comparatively) Handsome?

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

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

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Windy or wavy hairstyle?

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Proud to be a man!

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11 am and already happily drinking!
Great smiles!

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Brrrrrrr,,,,,,,,,,,

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

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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!

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Flaming hair!

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Well, no world is perfect….

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The same standing. Brrrrr…….

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

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

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

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

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

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Parade dancers having a break.

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Looking after the younger generation.

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

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Heads up! Time is coming soon to dance again!

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My favorite picture!

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Here they come!

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Tigerish hairstyle?

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I know, I know! I do like her!

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A bodyline to make a lot of foreign tourists jealous!

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

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I’m so bleeding tired…..

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

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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:

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With the mascot!

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Teaching by example?

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Hungry and waiting for the parade to come.

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

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Tired and hungry.

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Eager to participate!

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So well-behaved!

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Aren’t we beautiful?

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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!

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

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

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

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Some still couldn’t hide their fatigue!

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

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How far do we still have to go Mum?

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Let’s have a break, shall we?

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

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Horse Lord 1!

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Horse Lord 2!

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Horse Lord 3!

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

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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!

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

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Dancing genius 1!

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Dancing genius 2!

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Dancing genius 3!

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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!
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Shimada Obi Festival 5: The Food Stands!

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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!

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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”!

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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!

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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!

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Charcoal-grilled “ayame” trouts!

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Naturally sausages are a must!

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

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Hiroshima-style noodles, pasta, Yaki, Okonmiyaki!

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Yakitori!

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

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These disappear within a blink of the eye!

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Plenty of draft beer available!

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

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

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Fried sweet potato and potato sticks!

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Whirly sausages!

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Spicy stir-fried chicken!

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

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More pork kushiyaki/brochettes!

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

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

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

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

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Chorizo sausage pizzas!

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Giant crepes! Sweeeeeeeeeet!

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Oden! A shizuoka specialty!

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Karaage/Deep-fried chicken!

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Baked sweet potato cakes!

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

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Mexican sausage and potato tortilla!

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

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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”!
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Shimada Obi Festival 6: The “Clash” of the Chariots

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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”!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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Getting ready!

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A last re-adjustment before the pull!

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A few more details to take care of!

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

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The fans’ fans!

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The Dai Yon Kai Chariot about to start!

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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!

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Still waiting to start…

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Just a few more seconds…

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Start the drums!

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Moving forward at a slant needs so much physical synchronization!

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

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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!

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

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

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Handlers waiting patiently while riders are screaming at each other!

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

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C’mon guys! Let’s go with it!

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Unrelenting drumming during all that time!

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Some young ladies were very serious at it!

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Move aside, will ya!

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

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

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careful guys, careful!

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Move aside!

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Steady! Steady!

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Very little leeway, I can assure you!

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All the time the fans’ fans in a frenzy!

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The last scramble!

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Safely through, but look at those “stares”!

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

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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!!

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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.

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

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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!

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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!

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The first herald!

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The lancers!

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

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Heavy stuff actually!

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

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The archers!

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

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The Lord parading past a cake shop!

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

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Those dancers are a modern addition!

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The hairstyles were vastly different, then! LOL

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

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The Overlord was pulled along atop a small float.

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Bow to the Lord!

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Taking a rest and being re-groomed!

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No parade would come along without its music band!

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

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Even the lord seemed more amenable to his subjects!

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Another Lord with lady handlers!

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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!

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

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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!

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Some of them were obviously tired!

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Tough work to raise your knees under that heavy apron!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A common feature to top-class Japanese Festivals!

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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!

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