I walked in a traditional Japanese parade the other day.
I’ve seen these parades walk by plenty of times over the years, but this was my first time actually walking along with one. It was a neighborhood group, with a lot of kids in it. In fact the main portable shrine (called a mikoshi) was being carried by only kids. About 15 of them helping to support the golden shrine. It kind of reminded me of when Indiana Jones and Sallah first lifted the Lost Ark out of its resting place in Raiders.
The kids carried the shrine and another group of kids pulled a small wagon with a couple taiko drums on it. The kids would beat the drum when they weren’t bored. The adults in the group yelled ‘washoi,’ when they weren’t bored or overheated.
We made a couple stops along the way to get drinks of cold tea or enjoy popsicles that old men and women passed out. At these stops adults would try to teach the kids on the drums how to beat the traditional rhythms. The kids didn’t really pay attention to these instructions. They were more interested in the popsicles.
After about 45 minutes of winding through houses and rice fields we ended up at the neighborhood shrine. The neighborhood moms had set up tents and were selling such traditional festival foods like yakisoba noodles and ‘American dogs,’ which were corn dogs.
There were also a series of games for kids to play. There was a kiddie pool filled with waterballoons with strings attached to them. Kids were given little strips of tissue paper with paperclip hooks on the end of them. The tissue paper would dissolve as soon as a kids dipped it in the water to catch a balloon. An impossible task. But a good way to tax the town kids 100 yen at a time.
We bought our packets of yakisoba noodles and a few American dogs and headed back to the house to enjoy our festival spoils.