A procession of shrines brings the natsumatsuri (summer festival) to its climax. Children cheerfully carry shrines (at the Fukagawa Hachiman Festival), as they are repeatedly drenched by water.
Summer is full of children's favorite events such as fireworks, beach and outdoor camp. Above all, the natsumatsuri (summer festival) held throughout Japan is packed with interesting experiences like dancing in a circle with a large number of people, beating on the taiko drums vigorously, and attempting at rare attractions and games. When it's near dusk and the jolly sounds of drums and flutes are heard from outside, children are no longer able to sit still at home and are eager to quickly go to the festival venue.
Dressed Up in Yukata
Girls chatting on the shrine grounds wearing a yukata
Japan is in the climax of the festive season between July and September. The summer festival celebrates having spent the first half of the year safely, and it is an event to make wishes so that disasters will similarly not be met in the future. It is generally conducted in the precincts of shrines and temples, as well as parks and public squares. There are also towns that have an event called bon odori, where many people perform folk dance together in a circle.
Some children who go to the festival wear a yukata or jinbei, which are casual summer kimonos that are not worn very much in everyday life, making the festival a place where many fashionable appearances can be seen. Dressed up in yukata with pretty floral design and a pink band, the girls can feel a little bit like a grown-up.
Night stalls line up in the precincts of the shrine
During the festival, fun games and attractions can be played at the precincts of shrines and temples or the main street of the city, and street stalls where unique candies can be purchased are lined up closely. Street stall in Japanese, roten, are also referred to as yomise, or night stalls. Matsuri festivals are a great opportunity for children, who are usually not allowed to go out at night, to have fun peeking into various shops one after another during the night. The minds of the children kick into full gear thinking to themselves, "Where should I go and what should I play next?"
Attempting at Scooping Goldfish
Popular candies at the street stalls include wata-ame (cotton candy), which is a fluffy and white sugar candy, candy apples and apricots, which wraps small fruits in a transparent candy, and kaki-gori (shaved ice), which can be enjoyed with your favorite flavor syrup from a variety of choices.
|Cool fruit candies lined up on top of ice
Chatting while eating shaved ice
Little girl wearing a jinbei buying a chocolate-dipped banana
Choco banana (chocolate-dipped banana) is a confection with a pretty look, decorated with colorful toppings on top of a sweet banana dipped into chocolate and inserted with a stick for holding. Some stalls give an extra stick for free after buying your first, if you win in a game of rock-paper-scissors against the person at the stall.
Candies are not the only fun you can have. Yakisoba (fried noodles) with a lot of meat and vegetables as well as okonomiyaki pancake-style dishes made on a hot iron plate, are also characteristic of a matsuri festival.
Children scooping goldfish
The most typical attraction at a matsuri festival is kingyo sukui (goldfish scooping). Goldfish scooping is a game to scoop up small goldfish swimming in a water tank with a tool made of paper that is easily torn. Because you get to keep the goldfish that you successfully scoop out, the expressions on the children are all serious. A sight of children taking home a plastic bag with goldfish inside as if it’s their treasure, carefully checking that the goldfish is still there, can be seen everywhere.
Not only goldfish scooping, but the loud cheers of children can be heard from every attraction, including super-ball scooping where you scoop colorful toy bouncy balls, yo-yo scooping where you pick up a water balloon with a hooked needle, and cork shooting where you shoot at your favorite prize with a rifle that shoots cork bullets.
|Children scooping super-balls in yukata
Little boy aiming at a prize with a cork rifle