Kurayami Matsuri

Kurayami Matsuri (Black Night Festival) was held at the Okunitama Jinga (shrine) in Fuchu on the outskirts of Tokyo from May 3-6, 2010.

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Dating back more than 1,900 years, this annual festival attracts around 300,000 people every year to Okunitama Jinja.

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May 5 is Children’s Day (as part of Japan’s Golden Week in early May) so koinobori (carp) streamers were hung around the shrine.

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Inside the shrine grounds, there were many different types of stalls (food, drinks, games), as well as potted flowers and plants – it was so colorful as you can see from the pictures below.

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On the last day of the festival, the feature event was held called Mikoshi-Togyo, a parade of portable shrines and giant drums, which started at 6 pm and into the evening.

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Before the start of the actual parade, there was a procession of shinto priests …

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… and participants (townspeople) heading to the shrine.

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The mikoshi are led by the largest hollow wooden taiko drum in Japan known as Osakibarai-Taiko (which boasts a width of 2.5 meters) and 5 other giant drums.

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These giant drums seem effortlessly pulled by the townspeople, while a few stand on top of them and someone bangs loudly as a signal to the gods.

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The biggest excitement of the parade (and where most people watch) came when the huge drums and mikoshi groups meet at the intersection, and enthusiastically try to outdo each other.

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Who said Japanese people are reserved and not so crazy?

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13 thoughts on “Kurayami Matsuri

  1. Nice photos.

    >Kurayami Matsuri (Black Night Festival)

    I’d say 「暗闇祭り」 (“Kurayami Matsuri”) means “Pitch Darkness Festival”.

    • Thank you for the comment. I can’t read Kanji, but I think the more common English name is Black Night Festival, at least what I saw on the Internet (of course, that could by the gaijins only).

    • > Sigh, missed it again this year. Oh well.

      I thought you went last year – I remember reading it in your blog, no?

      > Thanks for the great photos.

      Thank you.

      • I went for about an hour one afternoon, but it started raining so I missed most of the processions, and the following day with the really big procession it was raining more so I didn’t go back for that.

  2. Japan has alot of festivals and celebrations, it seems. And they seem to be very social in a broad sense (as opposed to festivals that are mostly celebrated in the home or in small groups). Would you say that is true?

    Regardless, it is fascinating to me to learn about all these events. It makes me wonder how many more celebrations are held around the world that we in the West don’t know about.

    • Yes, I would say that is true. I love attending Japanese festivals as it has everything (food, games, dance, music, religion, tradition, colorful attire) and is attended by many people (sometimes too many, they are typically very crowded) from young to old, men, women and children.

      I am sure that each culture has their own different traditions and events. So, let’s try to travel around the world and experience them!

  3. Pingback: Taiko « Konnichiwa

  4. What is the point of the festival? what is it meant to be celebrating? im doing a project on tokyo and i need good information on the festivals…..Help?

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  7. Pingback: Sanja Matsuri Festival | Dinamic AV

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