Sunday, July 25, 2010

Nakatsu Gion Matsuri - daytime street scene

The scene in the street near our house on the last day of Gion, when the kurumas from Kurayanashihama Jinja stop by on their procession. At each pre-ogranized stop, the pushers and pullers take a rest, while the dancing girls come out and perform for the neighborhood. In our neighborhood, it's only me who comes out! The lady on the corner provides the drinks and the electricity (an extension cord hanging out her window, that they plug in to get the music) but she stays inside to serve the drinks. Every year someone asks me where I am from, and every year I say "here!"

This is a vid of them pulling the float up the street

My three outside 'our' vending machine. To Amy's left you can see the lantern with our town's name on it. These hang at all the stops.

The Dancers. There were four kurumas, each one stopped for two dances. The very first one we saw was the cutest, this tiny little girl on the left. Below left, the eldest. She was a great dancer, and almost managed to keep a straight face later in her routine, when one of the pullers jumped up onto the stage with her and danced too.
Right: thirsty work! These young girls sit in the back of the kuruma wearing heavy silk kimonos (no summer cotton yukatas for them), full white make-up and heavy decorated wigs. They stay in there with the blinds down, whether they are moving or stopped, only coming out to dance. Mums make sure the little ones get a break though, like this little one, whose Mum got her a (non-spillable) drink.

On the right, Mr Imayoshi, who owns the traditional Japanese paper umbrella factory next to our house, escorting two dancers away from the kuruma to their taxi. Ours is the last stop, and the girls get to finally get out of the kuruma and taken away for their lunch break, in what must be the pure heaven of an air conditioned taxi.

The cute little girl, plus another dressed as the boy, dancing together.

At the last stop, some random guy decided we needed to try on his happi (festival coat). Here is Kristin modeling the garment.

Gion style. The gentleman at the left shows typical male Gion matsuri syle, wearing the team's happi, with the team towel (green) around the neck and a second, more absorbent, and therefore more useful towel, as well; white half pants with a hara-maki, a stomach binding that all Japanese used to wear, to protect the vulnerable stomach area from getting cold, in which case you might get sick. You still see old guys wearing them, and mothers often put them on babies and young children just in case, but apart from that, you only see them at festivals. He's also wearing jika-tabi, two-toed boots, with traditional woven sandals over top - only they are now made out of nylon rope.
Top right: Gion fashion is very traditional, but changes
slighty every year nonetheless. As since trilbys are a big fashion hit in Japan this year, they turned up accessorizing the Gion outfits. Below left: women's style - you can't see under her happi, but the main difference is that the hara-maki is up over the breasts, and most of them wear a towel tied around their head this way. Kids get dressed the same - this is her kid, and he was begging for some juice while she tries to get her money out of some old-fashioned pouch. No handbags have turned up accessorizing Gion style yet! On the right, an ancient old man, must have been about 80, I wondered how many Gion Matsuris he had been to, and the changes in style he has seen over the years.

The mikoshi. Carrying the God House around on their shoulders. They stop at each stop and hoist it up high, arms stretched above their heads. And we were invited to walk underneath! Dangerous, as the heavy mikoshi was only being held up by these very hot, sunburned and clearly exhausted men, but apparently very good luck! Below is the vid of us going under, and a very nice close-up of Christine's lovely handbag!

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