Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Japan Day 8: Parades

Anyone's who's seen my stand-up knows how I feel about parades. So you'll know how I feel about seeing two in one day. At least they were completely new to me.

The first was in Kyoto. It was more a processional than a parade. Quiet, no music, no clapping. But it was historical, recreating the journey of the emporer and empress.

Renee says:

This festival is held jointly on May 15 by the Kamigamo and Shimogamo shrines in Kyoto. It is said to be the most graceful and traditional festival in all of the ancient capital. Before daybreak, participants assemble at the Old Imperial Palace. At 10:00 a.m. they leave the palace in procession, wearing Heian costumes that feature headpieces decorated with katsura wigs and aoi (mallow). The procession stops by Shimogamo Shrine and reaches Kamigamo Shrine in the early afternoon.

From there we left Kyoto and took the train over to Toyama, where Renee had spent a year as an exchange student. As soon as we got there , we were taken to another parade. But this one was really cool. In the spirit of local animosity, each neighborhood chooses a different god and builds a tower to him. Then they smash it into another neighborhood's tower as hard as they can. The fact that they spend the whole day drinking explains a lot.

Renee adds:

Early in the morning on the first day of the festival, residents of the seven quarters of Takaoka trim their floats with mountain-shaped decorations. They then line up in the Sakashita-cho section of the city and parade down the street in orderly fashion. After stopping at the shrine, the floats are taken back into the streets to return to their respective quarters by evening.
Then, the floats battle each other, banging into one another until the leader of one of the floats concedes. It was a lot of fun to watch!

1 comment:

Dave said...

This is the best blog ever. Jon, I think you should start a travel show and jus tour the world, commenting on everything. Its the best entertainment I've had in a long time.

PS - you must be tired, cause' you spelled Japan (Jpaan).