04 June 2012

Tokasan Festival

The Tokasan Festival is one of the three major festivals in Hiroshima and is a traditional event almost 400 years on the go. The Chuo-dori area around Enryuji Temple, which is located in Naka-ku, Hiroshima City, becomes crowded with people and many stalls line the streets selling meat on sticks, fish on sticks, pancakes on sticks and fruit on sticks. (There is also food available that isn't served on sticks but it's not nearly as interesting.) There are also opportunities to win knock off Nintendo 3DS games, dodgy looking pellet guns and teddies taller than the average adolescent. This festival is well-known as marking the time when people in Hiroshima are supposed to begin wearing yukata (casual summer kimono). This year it ran from Friday the 1st of June to Sunday the 3rd.

I'm afraid my pictures aren't the best. I felt really invasive and tourist-y pointing a camera in people's faces while they were out trying to enjoy their day. I did partake of the "food-on-stick" trend and had a savoury pancake on a stick, an octopus tentacle on a stick

Mmmm.. rubbery

and finally a chocolate-dipped banana on a stick. More meals should be served on sticks! There was also a traditional dance which took place in a central area of the festival called a bondance. People in traditional outfits danced around a raised platform on which two people stood banging a drum in time to the music played over the speakers (and sometimes to music that may have been playing in their own heads because it certainly wasn't in time to anything I was hearing).

Ladies in their yukatas dancing the bondance

The two drummers giving it socks on their drum on the raised, central platform

Here's a really bad video I made so you can get an idea of what I mean.

I stood with the crowd smiling and tapping my foot to the music, happy to watch this traditional dance take place when suddenly from out of the dancers appeared my friend and fellow ALT Darren with a mischievous grin on his face. He dragged me into the centre of the dance and although I claimed embarrassment and two left feet we danced for a good 15 minutes. The moves were easy enough to follow and after we had attempted several dances we were enthusiastically high-fived by three Japanese men who had been doing the bondace near us. So we can't have been that bad :-)

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Maira Gall