June 30, 2008

Aizen Matsuri - Summer Festivals Begin

Tonight was the first night of Aizen Matsuri, the first of the three summer Matsuri (i.e., festivals) that are held in Osaka at Shoman-in Temple. Aizen Matsuri is dedicated to Aizen Myo, the guardian deity of charm and love.

During the day there was a parade of yukata-clad geishas riding on red and white decorated palanquins (called hoekago.). But since I was working during the day, I only made it for the evening festivities.

Summer festival evenings mean alley streets lined with lots of food stands, carnival-games, and crowds. The meat-on-a-stick was truly excellent!

The festive alleys wound their way into the temple grounds, where many of the stars of the day's parade remained around, smiling and handing out balloons and flowers. It smelled of incense, and there were lots of people out - and tons of kids - dressed in yukatas and kimonos (and also many who weren't). It was quite the family atmosphere, and it was nice to see all of the families out enjoying the evening.

There were also some interesting musical performances on a stage next to the temple. The dancers danced two-at-a-time, a man and a woman, while two others played cow-bell sounding cymbals and two others played the drums. It was very rhythmic, getting faster and slower, and, for lack of a better comparison, the dancing itself reminded me - a little bit - of Madonna's Vogue ("strike a pose"), but with a distinctly Buddhist twist. There is some video below; you can decide for yourself.

Here is a little bit of video:

1 comment:

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

I love the Japanese summer festivals. I hate the summer heat, but the summer festivals are a welcome relief.