Culture, Japan, Photography, travel

Shogawa Tourist Festival

​The name of the festival suggest that it was created to promote tourism in this city, but there were a few critical pieces missing on the equation that made me believe it was the complete opposite intention. The festival was amazing by itself, but the following are just a few situations that made if this trip one of the most difficult and strange, yet enjoyable.​

1) Difficult to get in and out.

I asked for directions at the tourist information office in Takaoka station and the lady didn’t know about the festival at all, she had to make a few phone calls and search on the Internet to get the details. She explain that I had to take a local bus and get off at the last stop. I followed her directions and as I was getting off of the bus I couldn’t really see anything other than rise fields. I asked the driver and he told me to keep walking for another 10 mins and that eventually I would see it. After 10 mins walking, I couldn’t see anything else other than rice fields, some factories and a few houses. I kept walking and was getting a bit impatient, until all of the sudden I heard a drum far away on the distance, I followed the sound until reached the festival. On the way back, I took a Taxi, had to ask a security guard as the road was very empty. He suggested to go to the convenience store and ask the personel to get a taxi for me.

2) Mostly locals showed up.

It might be that this was the unlucky year where not many people traveled to see the festival, but something made me feel like if most of the attendants were friends and family with the performers. Although I did spot one westerner other than me, I felt like many people were looking at me as if I was and strange curiosity not commonly seen in the surroundings.

​Shogawa Tourist Festival and the Neighbor city’s Tonami Yotaka festival are celebrated almost the same days, nearby cities and the main event is almost the same (floats fight). I wouldn’t recommend attending to both neighboring festivals unless you have enough time and adventurous spirit. If I have to choose to attend to only one, I would choose this one given the variety of performances and relaxed / exotic environment.

Full details: http://discoverjapan.info/Details/ShogawaTouristFestival

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Japan, Photography, travel

Sanja matsuri

According to the legend, a statue of the Kannon (deity for mercy) was found in the river by two fishermen in the year of 628. The chief of their village recognized the sanctity of the statue and rebuilt his own house into a temple for the villagers to worship Kannon. This is how Senso-ji was founded, one of the most famous temples in Tokyo and an Icon of Japan often featured on books and movies.

Every year, the 3rd weekend of May, Senso-ji honors these 3 founders of the temple (Hinokuma Hamanari, Hinokuma Takenari and Hajino Nakamoto) with the largest and wildest festival in Tokyo. During this 3 days celebration they have multiple activities and performances, where the highlight is the parade of the 3 big mikoshis (portable shrines) carried around the streets by different groups of people. This is also a unique opportunity to see Yakusa (Japanese mafia) members, as they traditionally join the festival to carry their Mikoshi show their very distinctive tattoos.

Thousands of people attend to this festival, it gets so crowded that it is difficult to move around, especially around the main Temple, but still very entertaining and a must see festival if you are near Tokyo.

Full details (When, where, how and more) can be found here: http://discoverjapan.info/Details/AsakusaSanjaMatsuri

The following are some pictures I took of the event

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