Last Sunday I went to see the annual Arimatsu Festival, though the main parade was washed out and has been rearranged for tomorrow.
Arimatsu is a small post-town on the ancient Tokaido highway between Kyoto and Edo (Tokyo) and is famous for its high quality shibori (tie-dye) products. Some beautiful historic merchant houses still remain, which are used as showrooms for Arimatsu shibori fabrics.
The festival consists of a procession of large, ornate floats pulled through the streets, accompanied by flute and drum music. The floats have intricately-made karakuri dolls attached to them and "dance" in time to the music. The locally produced karakuri automatons are a testament to the engineering skills of the Chubu area (Toyota cars are made here & the Zero Sen plane in WWII) and remain the main attraction of the festival. The dolls, one of which can even write, are operated by unseen hands within the float.
Arimatsu Festival is held on the first Sunday of October. To get to Arimatsu take a Meitetsu train from Nagoya, Kanayama or Horita stations.