Saturday, November 6, 2010

Inuyama Festival

From Inuyama Matsuri
Recently I ventured out to Inuyama (which translates to dog-mountain) to the north of Nagoya for their yearly festival. Their local mascot is a dog called Wanmaru-kun (“wan” being the Japanese equivalent of “woof,” “maru” meaning “circle,” and “kun” being a less formal way to refer to a guy).

From Inuyama Matsuri
Inuyama is the home of the oldest surviving wooden castle in Japan which sits among the mountains overlooking the main route between Kyoto and Tokyo. Built by the uncle of warlord Oda Nobunaga (one of the most prominent historical figures in Japan, and particularly Nagoya), Inuyama castle was used mainly as a security tower.

From Inuyama Matsuri
The town around the castle, being somewhat rural, exhibits a lot of surviving traditional influences in architectural aesthetic and custom. The town prides itself on its history making mechanical dolls, which they display on several multi-tiered floats during the festival parade, putting on small performances as the floats make their way in procession from their tall storage garages throughout the town, ending at the town’s plaza near the castle.

From Inuyama Matsuri
There, the floats are stripped down and adorned with hundreds of paper lanterns. After sundown, the lanterns are all lit and the procession to return the floats to their garages begins. Inside the floats many costumed children play drums and flutes, while outside groups of men push each individual float, even having to rotate the massive things at several points along the way home. I recorded some video to truly show how much of a feat this really is.

While the parade of lanterns is the real highlight of the festival, we were also able to experience some other things, like being treated to the local specialty, rakudan, which is a slab of tofu coated with miso paste heated over hot coals. Yum!

There are countless more pictures of the parade over here, so please make sure to check those out.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Questions, disagreements, complaints? Feedback is more than appreciated!