Japan is the Land of gods and they are the reason cities and towns pulse with festival excitement. The intense spectacle and traditions of these renowned matsuri draw millions of people each summer. Matsuri is the Japanese word for a festival or holiday. In Japan, festivals are usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple and the whole community takes part in the festivities. I lived in Higashi-Rinkan, a suburb of Tokyo, for a while and was fortunate enough to be there for their summer festival.
The main road running through this district was closed off for the whole day. A procession of bands and dancers walked down this street all the way up to the small shrine at the end of the road.
During summer evening I got to experience and enjoye Bon-Odori (dance) happening throughout the whole street. This tradition was originated when the farmers thanked the Rice Paddock God for the good summer crop. The Dance movement is simple and repetitive. You can actually learn it within a few minutes. Even people like me with no rhythm can do it and it was loads of fun to actually be part of this celebration and not just standing around looking like a tourist!
I walked down the street admiring the dancers on their weird wooden shoes listening to the strange music played by the small bands walking in the procession and just loving the festival atmosphere! All along the road there were little stalls set up that sold snacks and drinks to the spectators.
I stood in line to buy myself some candyfloss and was stared at by all the little kids who stood with me. After staring at me for a while they pushed me to the front of the line and had me taste all the different sweets on display before I was allowed to buy my candyfloss. They had loads of fun laughing at my reactions to the weird tasting sweets especially the sour sweets!
It was a small local festival so I really stood out as a foreigner but the people made me feel welcome and were very friendly. I loved living in Japan!