Have you been to a Matsuri?

Matsuri means Local Festival in Japanese.
So have you ever gone to a festival? If you haven't, a festival is basically a huge gathering of people to celebrate an event of some type [like independence day]. It is usually and ordinarily staged by a local community, which centers on and celebrates some unique aspect of that community and the Festival. But  matsuri's are probably better, in my case. There are tons of people that come from all over Toyko to drink, eat, and celebrate.

I've been to a "matsuri" in New York City before, the sakura matsuri - held in Brooklyn Botanical Gardens during the spring. But that type of matsuri is different then the matsuri's in Japan - at least the ones I've been to so far. There are two types I've been to so far, a few hanabi matsuri's and a few matsuri's that involved either lanterns or floats being paraded along the streets - these aren't your Macy's day floats. The crowd moves along the streets next to food stalls and an older style of arcade games, mainly for children. It was quite fun, you'd can see a bit of how it is in the photo's below.
These are three different festivals, (a lantern festival, fireworks [hanabi] festival, and a floating float festival). Hanabi is usually held in Summer. During the festivals you'll see a lot of people dressed in Yukata's, mostly during the summer hanabi festivals.
The lantern festivals are usually held at shrines, to pray for good fortune or a bountiful harvest - somewhere along those lines.
The last picture shows two floating floats battling through music and dance - and the cheers of the people. For any of these events you'd have to be a person of the crowd, meaning you have to be tolerant of large crowds. During certain times and places within the festival the crowd can get quite absurd. You'd be pushed and pulled with the flow of the crowd and sometimes squished, if you aren't careful of how much space to put between you and the person in front of you. It is best to avoid arriving right on time and leaving right when it ends, usually that is when the trains are most crowded, and it is not fun.

The stalls of all types was fun to see and experience, (first picture out of the three). Those stalls specialize in certain types of food, drinks, or games. The food stalls consist of Yakitori, Yakisoba, okonomiyaki, and a whole lot of others. My most favorite are yakisoba, and this grilled chicken with a bit of white wine mixed into it- just thinking about it makes me drool! And yes, I wrote that right...freshly grilled chicken with a bit of white wine. It was a weird food stall to find, but it really was good - you'll just have to try it one day! Then the drinks stalls, there were the normal soda, water, and alcohol stalls. Then there were only alcohol/beer stalls, and odd ones in plastic bags - must try if you get the chance, ramune flavor is so good.

I didn't play any of the game stalls, seemed more for children or dates. They were mostly similar, catch an animal [fish or turtle] and you can keep it. But you'd just have to do it quickly before the paper breaks in the water. You can catch shiny bouncy balls. You can try your luck at raffle stands - with various prizes from dolls to faces of "your" favorite idol on a pillow or plush, or something like that.
My favorite game to watch was the one where you had to catch turtles in water, with a small wafer cup. The guy in charge of the stall was so skilled at it! It seemed so easy when he did it, but it is much harder then it seems?

The excitement of the festival could even be felt after the festival ends. I can't wait to post up how my new years festival in Japan would be like. I wonder if it is just as exciting?
What do you think? Do you think you'd enjoy the festival's in japan? After reading this do you want to go to one? Would you like to hear more in details about the festival's I've been to?


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