Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part I – Haranomachi Matsuri/Festival

Taiko Float 2

It was my birthday on the weekend, and Alice managed to outdo last year’s deep sea party by negotiating with the regional government to hold the yearly samurai festival in my honour.

There were quite a few events, most of which involved samurai on horseback, and I took a bunch of pictures. I’ll break it up over a couple of posts.

It started off with a street festival, or matsuri. A matsuri is much like any street festival, with food stalls, a music stage, and a parade. However it’s about ten basquillion times more interesting than ones anywhere else, because the parade is always huge (everyone gets in on it) and everyone uses it as an excuse to dress up in their traditional clothes, giving the whole thing a really special vibe. At least, I hadn’t been to one before, and I was thoroughly impressed.

There was food on sticks ahoy, although we only managed to try scallops and fried chicken before getting distracted by the parade. We missed out on chocolate-covered bananas with sprinkles (think soft serve, but with a banana instead of icecream), much to our chagrin.

Giant Scallop-on-a-Stick

There was a small band playing traditional music throughout the parade. It was being piped through the main street on PAs, and it basically did exactly this for about 4 hours:

Which wasn’t unpleasant, but I wouldn’t have wanted to be performing.

The parade was very impressive. Various groups put in a “float” although it tends not to be an actual float so much as a group of people dressed the same. Everyone does the same micro-dance all the way down the street, which prevents it from becoming simply a forced march. There were a few cool things though, shrines, trucks with taiko drummers, a geisha, etc.


We saw Cody & Ari (two of the gaijin we went camping with last weekend) in one of the groups, so Alice joined in the parade, and we met up with them afterwards. After some confusion, we ended up being asked back to Cody’s judo teacher’s brother-in-law’s house. We didn’t quite know what we were getting ourselves into but we had a hilarious time chatting to old drunk Japanese country dudes, and eating their delicious food and being plied with sake. All in all a lovely evening!

Here are the rest of the photos from the festival.

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One Comment

  1. jillian says:

    Bring on the Samuri!!!!!! The mutant scallop must be from near Nagasaki!

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