28 Jul, 2010
On July 13 and July 15th we went to the Mitama Matsuri. It was held at the Yasukuni shrine, which is about 1 minute-walk from our house. Because we always pass this Shrine on our way to school we have seen the whole preperation beforehand. For about 2/3 weeks they had already begun preparing for the matsuri. Everyday we have seen them building the racks for the lanterns, hang every light bulb and eventually hanging the lanterns. And finally the Matsuri has begun!
The Yasukuni shrine is to commemorate soldiers who fought and died. The Mitama Matsuri (みたま まつり) is a mid summer celebration of the spirits of the ancestors. The entry walk is decorated with 40 foot high walls of 29000 or more lanterns, and thousands of visitors come to pay respects to their lost relatives and friends. You can imagine how beautiful it was to see in real life! On the left you can see people were standing in line to pray at the shrine’s haiden (Yasukuni’s main prayer hall).
During the evening there were all kinds of performances, like these drum players. It was amazing to see and hear.
On the right are the dancers. We actually just missed their performance because we were watching the drummers. :P
This was also really nice, performers and just ordinary people or even tourists, were dancing around the Statue of Ōmura Masujirō (It honors Ōmura Masujirō, a man who is known as the “Father of the Modern Japanese Army.”). They were walking around and making intricate hand motions to the drums & music. I guess if you know the dance everyone can join!
This is the first Japanese ghost house I have seen at a matsuri. It looked kinda funny, but outside we could hear the people on the inside screaming! Of course, we didn’t go in :P.
I especially like this “scary” Tanuki. Typical Japanese!
If you ever come to Japan during July, you should definitely visit this Matsuri! It was amazing!
(Unfortunately now, even after 1,5 week has past, the whole entry walk of the shrine smells like garbage! It’s disgusting… I guess that’s what the food stalls did. Now we just try to avoid biking there…yuck!)