Summertime - Time for Fun

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This is the time in Japan, when festivals, Matsuri, are organized in every town, every little village, every shrine. The tradition is very very long and can be tracked back till the early times. Earliest Matturi were organized as sacred rites of farming people to ensure a good rice harvest for example and to pray for health and wealth... as every where else in the world.
Still it is a religious event and most of the rites are behind the closed doors. What you can take part in is the procession of mikoshi - portable shrines- in which kami -the god - is paraded around the village - and dashi - wagons prepared by the community of a neighbourhood, pulled by the people wearing yukata(on the foto).
The dashi is the pride of a neighbourhood. A lot of care is taken to prepare a representative wagon. At the begining of the festa, and several times during it, the dashi from all the town or village meet, and are compared. At Matsuri in Kawagoe, for example, they are pretending to quarell.
On every dashi, there are musicians playing traditional instruments, like taiko(drum) shakuhachi (flute) etc... to make the music for the event.
All the sleepy little towns come to life at the Matsuri. People wear traditional clothes, like yukata in the summer. Every one comes to the streets, meets friends and family and enjoy this time together. They eat food from the yatai - open air stands serving takoyaki ( balls with octopus;)),
okonmiyaki ('fry it as you like'), sausages (that's not that traditional), banaba in chocolate (obscure look ) kakemizu (ice withe a juice ), yakitori ( grilled chicken), yakisoba(fried noodles)...etc.. I konw I'm not the kitchen expert, but everything is really delicious;)
In the evening, after few, or more than a few cups of beer or sake... everybody looks up to the sky, for beautiful sparkling flowers - The hanabi (literaly fire flowers) - fire works
Here are some fotos from Festival in Motegi - a village in the moutains- I have take part in.
Pulling the Dashi at the noon heat was... was hard ;)

the sun at noon
Posted by Picasathe dashi-a wagon pull by young people wearing traditional clothes
yukata with summer modification:
rolled sleeves, the robe stuck into the sash
to be cool
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hot noon Posted by Picasa
the details of the dashi: the masterpieces of craftsmanship: peony a lionPosted by Picasa
sisi-dashi detail Posted by Picasa
japanese pine tree Posted by Picasa
turtle horse Posted by Picasa
dragons Posted by Picasa
dashi - detail Posted by Picasa
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omikoshi Posted by Picasa
getting ready Posted by Picasa
osmiornica Posted by Picasa
tako yaki - kulka z osmiornica Posted by Picasa
starszyzna Posted by Picasa
having a rest? girls in sarashina (the under wear)Posted by Picasa
dashi Posted by Picasa
gaki Posted by Picasa
children carying the mini omikoshi Posted by Picasa
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when it gets dark Posted by Picasa