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Sunday, September 17, 2006

Late summer festivals in Japan

夏の祭り

Late summer festival lanterns, Omekaido street, Nakano ward, Tokyo.It’s late summer, the days are almost cool, but the muggy vestiges of midsummer still hang in the air, as does the thinned out trilling of the last cicadas.

Over the past 10 days the streets of Tokyo's neighborhoods have been festooned with paper lanterns, usually by, and bearing the name of, the local neighborhood committee.

This afternoon, as I type this, there is the sound of rhythmic whistleblowing against a background of drums and chanting coming to me from just a block or two away. It’s a compelling sound that makes sitting at home feel like you’re missing out on something. I am tempted to go and get coverage, but it’s spitting very lightly outside, I did my back in a couple of days ago, I’m waiting for a phone call, and I’m hungover.

Last night, though, I got a shot of this very attractive display of lanterns just a little down the road on the main road of Omekaido that cuts through Nakano ward. I noticed also the makeshift sheds on a few roadsides housing the omikoshi floats, drums and other paraphernalia for local festivals. Various temples are hung with red and white stripped bunting, are set up with sideshows and stalls selling snacks, and thronged with locals in cool cotton yukata robes.

Early fall leaves on sidewalk, Chiyoda ward, Tokyo.Autumn will be here soon, bringing a whole lot more opportunities for festivity and getting together to 'observe the leaves' (i.e. get blotto under them). Here is a piquant foretaste of fall that I snapped on the sidewalk in Chiyoda ward a couple of days ago, just across from the British Embassy.

Buy tasteful interior decoration paper lanterns.

Click here for September festivals in Japan.

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