Narita Gion Festival

On an early July Friday morning at 10AM the Narita Gion Festival officially starts, and has so for the last 300 years.
The city goes crazy (by way of speaking), and for 3 days the roads around Omotesando Road and the temple are either congested or closed.
During these three days one of Naritasan Shinshoji’s portable shrines (omikoshi) and 10 different floats are paraded down the Omotesando Road, with music, dance, cheering and the chanting of ‘oyster’ around the floats.
They don’t really chant oyster, but it sounds like it. So far none one has been able to tell me what they do shout, so oyster it is.

So on this Friday morning The Smurg and I set off to see what it’s all about. The 1st float we came across was parked just outside the Narita JR station.

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It’s a huge contraption, made of wood, highly decorated and pulled up and down the Omotesando Road by men, women and children.

It’s still a little early it seems and everyone is getting ready
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Dressed in their Sunday best, dressed up or wearing the ‘happy dress” (that’s what the lady at the tourist information office called it) of the Gion Festival costumes
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One of the chefs of the “Believe’ restaurant

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Little boy and girl dressed in the outfits worn by those who pull the floats.

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The cackling (that’s another story) Kimono’s

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And even the canines dress up in their best kimono

On Friday morning the Y crossing of Omotesando Road is still quiet and abandoned but for the local excentric and a couple of police men
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Then we got greeted by the Oyster Oyster chant and the first float was being pulled up the hill.
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To be honest I admire them, on a hot day I cringe at the thought of pushing the stroller with a 9.6KG toddler in it up the hill, let alone pull a few hundred kilo’s of float+instruments+musicians!

The girls accompanying the floats where colorful costumes
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The outfits worn by those associated with a float all seem to differ depending what float, and what area of Narita they belong to
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This lady is part of the all women pulling team. She wears Jika-tabi boots, which most construction workers and roofers wear. apparently due to their tactile feel with the ground and excellent grip/no slip soles.

The festival was amazing, lots of music which The Smurg really enjoyed, at one point having a grand audience when she was dancing away to the float flute and drum music.
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Thousands of people (last year apparently 400000 attended the festival) attend, and at one point we could not move back or forth with the stroller.
Luckily floats do come with manual brakes, and this is truly manual
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At one point all floats are pulled up to the temple square for blessings
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The Smurg was really hot and bothered and tired and I actually missed this part of the festival

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The shrine being carried from the temple on another round of Narita

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Having a well deserved rest

Once is started to rain, the figured on top of the floats are lowered down (into the float itself), the rain covers put up and everyone keeps partying
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This little girl, danced and chanted for 3 days, maybe not constantly but I saw her every day
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The carts are beautiful too, up the smallest details they have been decorated. This angle has beautiful mother of pearl inlay
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This carving is amazing! The ball is hollow with another ball inside, which is lose. Always wonder how they do that
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In the evening, one of the little street restaurants, put up a Kabuki Play.
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All in all it was amazing and fun, and very very busy. We ended up with sore feet, a smile in our heart and on our face and a very sleeping child.

The next day, we ran across this wagon, being dismantled for storage.

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There are a lot more picture in the photo album

Enjoy
*R*

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