Experiences

ふくろ祭り – My First Japanese Festival Experience

In Japanese, 祭り (matsuri) means festival, meaning I went to my first Japanese festival today!! It was really cool. Fukuro Matsuri took place in on the west side of Ikebukuro Station, the same side as Rikkyo. It began yesterday in the morning and will end sometime tonight.  I didn’t go yesterday but today after I went to the gym I stuck around Ikebukuro to experience the festival first hand. I went before it got dark but I’m sure that it is even more fascinating to walk around once the sky has darkened. If I didn’t have so much homework to do I’d go back to experience it!

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Omikoshi

Walking around everywhere around the west side were people in blue festival clothes. My first encounter was actually walking back to the station from Rikkyo. My bags were heavy and I was of the mind that I would take my bags home and then come back to play at the festival. Then I saw a large group of people carrying an omikoshi (I think it was…) through the streets of Ikebukuro! There was a police man there directing traffic so that they could walk with this massive portable shrine on their shoulders. In the front of the procession was also a group of people that were playing instruments. I almost got walked all over, but it was still really good to see it because I hadn’t been able to find the festival yet.

After watching them walk for awhile, I made my way back to the station, back to my original plan of ditching my bags and coming back, when I heard music coming from one of the numerous exits in Ikebukuro Station. I peeked up and there was a performance going on in front of the main West Exit!! I ran up to look and quickly got absorbed by the crowd that was gathering. I was lucky that there was a really tall, but also really generous person in front of me that kept trying to shift so that I could see if I stood on my tip toes. The performances were nice, but then I got to see what is basically my number one in terms of Japanese traditional things, taiko.

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Taiko!!

Taiko is traditional Japanese drumming and it is so fascinating to me. I watched two groups perform and the first group almost brought me to tears because I was so excited! It was a group of mostly women and one man and they had so many kinds of drums. The ground was actually vibrating from their playing. It brought me back to my days in drumline only it was way cooler. It was a shame that it was hard to see so I watched some of the performance on the phone of the person recording it in front of me. None the less it was amazing and I am sure that I will get the chance to see taiko again. Actually, I’d love to try doing it. It seems like it’s really intensive but I also think that it would be a lot of fun! Not only that but there is a lot of feeling that goes into the playing. It’s really hard to explain but actually this is maybe the best thing I have experienced because I had actually forgotten how much I wanted to see a taiko performance!! I’m sorry that the picture isn’t that good, it was actually really hard for me to see as well!

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Japanese dumplings

Lastly, I went to the festival grounds where they had booths for food, games, and a stage. There were so many kinds of food that it was really hard to choose what I wanted to eat! It was also really cheap I think. When you go to a fair or something in Canada, all the food is really expensive. That wasn’t the case here. I got gyoza, which are Japanese dumplings. I could get five of them for only 100¥ and they were so delicious!! If I had wanted to I could have also drank beer out in the open. There were many beer tents and drinking in that kind of situation is okay. There was even a bartender tent where they were making more upscale drinks! The only thing that I regret not trying is the gold fish game. You try to catch a gold fish with like a plastic wrap net and if you can get it you get to keep the fish! It seemed a little awkward to do by myself though so I didn’t do it. I can try it the next time I go to a festival.

The stage performances that I got to see today were a double dutch skip rope group and some enka singers. The double dutch was interesting because they brought many people from the audience to try! The ages raged from two years old to over twenty. I think of enka as the folk singing of Japan, someone please correct me if I’m wrong. The singing was really pretty. While I was listening though, some older Japanese man came up and started talking to me in English and after he found out I was from Canada, he told me how he had gone to Vancouver many times (sigh) and told me about his daughter and his dog. This is the first time that something like this has happened to me but I did know that these things happened…None the less I hope it doesn’t happen too often because it was kind of awkward. I left shortly after that!

Time to do all my homework and hit the books again for another week of school tomorrow!





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