Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part III – Video of Haranomachi Samurai Races.

Just a quick, fairly terrible video of the goings-on at the samurai race day.

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Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part IV – Odaka Samurai Parade.

Flame Helmet Guy Closeup

Back to the celebrations of 2 weekends ago, after the samurai races, all the samurai ride back home to their towns. They make a bit of a parade of it, and it was good to have the opportunity to check them out close up.

Apparently all the samurai are descendants of samurai families, and though most of their armour is reproduction, it’ll be faithful to their family equipment. They’ll use what original gear still remains, but obviously that will vary from family to family. The banners are their family crests. I’m not informed enough to know much more than that, sadly, but it’s probably quite rich in tradition.

Anyway, on to the pictures!

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Sendai Tanabata Festival 2010: Night 1: Yukata, Fireworks & Food.

This weekend was the Sendai Tanabata Festival, which is kind of a big deal.

Shiny!

I’m not actually particularly clear on the tradition of the festival or what it’s supposed to represent, exactly. Sadly, it’s wiki page is the worst Wikipedia article I’ve ever read, and the couple of Japanese people I’ve asked basically say “well, it’s a festival, innit”. It’s the biggest summer festival in the northern region, and millions of people travel from miles around to come to Sendai to see the parades, fireworks, and especially these giant paper lantern things that are really stunning and everywhere.

We’re lucky to be in Sendai for it, so our friends Abigail & Shelly came up from the Fukushima coast to make a weekend of it. And did we ever!

The summer festival season is when everyone gets their traditional dress on, and the girls weren’t about to miss out; I took it as an excuse to wear my pyjamas around town and have it be socially acceptable. So we dressed up and made a night (well, 3 nights!) of it.

Thursday night’s event was fireworks; allegedly there were 16,000 fireworks being let off. We got there too late to get a spot where you could really see them, though; the streets were SUPER crowded, and lined with food stalls, drink stalls and onlookers. We found a pretty good spot and waited for Alice’s friend Aya to come find us. What we could see of the fireworks was pretty impressive, but it was really about just soaking up the festival atmosphere. Well, that and the beer.

We went out to dinner with Aya and her friend afterwards, to a delicious restaurant whose name unfortunately I can’t remember. It was very European (actually, very Australian!) and not at all Japanese, which was cool, because it was full of festival revellers in their traditional dress and the culture mix was refreshing. Also refreshing was the insanely delicious food.

So after getting dressed up, catching the fireworks and hitting the town, we decided to call that a warm-up and head on home to recuperate.

More photos later! Many more photos…

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Thomavalé World Tour 2010 – Part II – Haranomachi Samurai Races.

Lining up

On Saturday we headed out to the Samurai Races. I was kind of expecting a few old guys wearing their grandfather’s old helmet having a bit of a trot around a paddock, or at best a gymkhana vibe. I was not expecting several hundred dudes on horseback, decked out in full regalia, having proper racetrack races in front of thousands of people.

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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.

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