Summer Matsuri Photography

in Photography Lovers9 months ago (edited)

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After a 3 year hiatus, summer festivals in most of Japan have started back up. The scorching heat kept many people away during the day, with temperatures rising as high as 42•C ( 107.6•F). But despite the heat, festival goers could be seen scattered throughout the street making there way to the various stalls while the Taiko drums echoed in the background. Luckily for us, we went to a friend’s house and observed the festivities from a balcony. Here are some of the shots I took.


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The tiako player brings the base sounding the entrance of the Mikoshi. On his cue we made our way to the balcony to get a glimpse of the most traditional aspect of the summer festival, carrying the Mikoshi.


In the picture below, you can see my friend from India along with his fellow "chosen ones" who were taking turns carrying the Mikoshi. At first glance you may think it is my Indian friend raising both his hands, but look again.

"A mikoshi is a sacred religious palanquin. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle to transport a deity in Japan while moving between main shrine and temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine."
Source: Wiki

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Carrying the Mikoshi is no easy task especially for the taller men as the weight is mainly on their shoulders. As the Mikoshi is being carried down the street, the men are trenched in water by viewers and the appointed staff to help beat the heat. They are also given food and "beverages" by the local sponsors on their several stops along the way, up and down the street.

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Once they reach a check point ( usually at the end of the road, they do a waving shake motion of the Mikoshi and chant "Wasshoi’. After a little research I found out that this chant is meant to bring the people together, especially the Mikoshi carriers so they can move as one.


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Then they turn around and place the Mikoshi on the ground and do the final clap to mark the end of the street march of the Mikoshi. From there, it will be carried and placed at a shrine and then in safe keeping.


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Here are some of the gang hanging-out looking at the festivities from the balcony and talking about life in Japan.

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Street Photography

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In this section I took some shots of random people on the street as it is easier to snap unnoticed from above and get more natural shots. It is always good to see young Japanese wearing kimonos if only for the summer festival, keeping the tradition alive. Of course the females wore kimonos more than men and there is a high probability that the fellow walking with his girl was told to wear one 😄.
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Take it to the streets

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Once it cooled down we took it to the streets to get a closer look at the action. I like these blurred shots at times ( taken by mistake due to wrong settings). But there is something artistic about them if you only look for it. For instance in this shot below, the dude in the middle is more visible and we can make out the amount of people wearing masks. The blur also represents the fast movement they were all doing to cross the road.
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And here is the gang on the side of the street wondering where to go next. I snapped this shot while sitting at my Indian friend's Cafe ( the one in the Mikoshi scene earlier in this post). Always like the natural shots, no one had a clue I was snapping. I do Hope you enjoyed the pics as well as the insight into the Japanese summer festival culture. Until next time, stay blessed!
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Awwwww I enjoyed reading this, I love how you explained the Mikoshi and the Japanese kimono are so lovely, too bad over here they try to replicate it but it just isn't giving the Japanese vibe.

Thanks for sharing this, you made me smile😊😊

Glad you enjoyed it! I didn't make it too long either heheh I think that’s a major key.
Oh really, you gotta make a post about that.

Thanks for popping by. I appreciate it.

I can actually imagine how interesting the festival will be and I'm sure that is why people are going during the heat because no one would love to go out when it is hot

That is right . Also this is the “countryside" so nothing much to do 😆.
I always look forward to the festivals though as it always brings out the people. Good to chance to see friends you haven’t seen in a bit.

Nice shots, it looks like a very fun event!

Thanks. It was a lot of fun. Looking forward to attending a few more before the summer ends.

I would expect all the men to be of equal height. If not, either the short ones don't reach, or the tall ones have to crouch. Would be a funny scenario though.

It isn't always the case though, they usually just get who is willing. But it works out in the end. I did the Mokoshi once and man it was heavy as I was one of the taller dudes. But the liquor and the vibe gets you through it.

Such an event should take place within the city. Every human being is in their own trouble when they meet different people and talk to people and see a lot of special things. There is happiness and he forgets his troubles for some time.

Indeed, it is a great time to get out and meet people and forgot your troubles. I am looking forward to many more of these events over the summer.

Yeah you are absolutely right.