Saturday, February 12, 2011

Kanto Matsuri (Lantern Festival) - August 2008

In August of '08 while still in Misawa, Japan we completed the trifecta of the area's (and Japan's) best festivals by attending the Kanto Matsuri with Alan. We spent the better part of the day trying to find a camping sight due to the immense popularity of the festival. We finally found one just outside of town at some sort of family park complex that had a water park.

We made our way into town braving the rain to see the lantern parade with 400,000 others (the festival generally gets about 1.3 million visitors a year). Along with the lantern toters there were your typical Japanese festival fare.

Luckily, we were able to scope out a pretty good spot right along the avenue of the parade. The lanterns (which weigh around 115 lbs and are about 36 ft long) are passed from man to man and carried on the hip, forehead, hand and shoulder.

Unlike most of the festivals in Japan, this one actually had an element of danger added to it.  While the lantern carriers were quite skilled at balancing these lighted beauties, sometimes they did drop all 36 feet of them.  Luckily we were standing under a high line that caught the falling projectiles.

Below is a video illustrating the dangerous nature of being a spectator at this festival and how the line saved us.

The morning after spending a rain drenched night at the campsite (in which Alan and I polished off a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos in the Surf as evidenced by orange crumbs all over the car) we set off up the west coast of Japan.

In this region of Japan there is some fable of these crazy dressed people.  We never figured out exactly what they were, but as you can see they were friendly and photogenic.

In true Japanese ingenuity, a couple of construction traffic control robots.

And before we headed home, we stopped off to check out the rice art (as seen in a previous post).

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