Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ueno Tenjin Matsuri!

Iga's main festival is the Ueno Tenjin Matsuri held from October 23rd-25th and featuring a parade of locals dressed as oni (ogre or demons), mikoshi (portable shrines) and another procession of decorated, wheeled floats known as danjiri. The festival has a 500 year history.

It was definitely an interesting experience watching the oni parading and frightening the wits out of babies, toddlers and young children, who responded by madly wailing their lungs out. Apparently it's good for children to cry on this occasion because the oni are scaring the evil spirits away from them.

We also went on a treasure hunt of sorts and kind of won the top prize in a lucky draw - a box of really exotic grapes!

The parade of the oni.

An 'ogre' struggling to drink through a straw.

The samurai (top) and the priest (bottom) warding away evil.

Look at how horrified the kids were.

The Danjiri (large wooden carts in the shape of a shrine/temple)!

Mikoshi (Portable shrines).

Lion dance - Japanese version!

Completing the treasure hunt and our prized Nabari grapes from a lucky draw! One of the top prizes. Lady luck seemed to be on our side that day as we managed to draw the number 88 from a pool of 100 numbers!

Exhibition on the festival.

Ueno Tenjin Jinja and the long queue to pray to the gods.

A creepy haunted house, ironically located just outside the Ueno Tenjin temple. Pretty entertaining.

Cute Japanese kids.
What's a festival without the yattai ~ Japanese pasar malam?

Lantern offerings found outside every house.
Our omiyage of postcards which capture the essence of the festival.