03 June 2006

Colourful local parade

Last week there was this parade in town in honour of the Tenjin Matsuri festival.

Here are a few pictures.

These masked persons are called Bakemono. Their primary function in life (or rather in this parade) is to remain masked for the duration of the parade, not utter a single word, stay incognito and most important, pour out sake for all and sundry. And juice for the kids, of course! Did I remember to mention that the sake is free??

Legend goes that one Sugawara, who was this education reformer in the late 9th century, fell out of grace with the powers that be. Since Sugawara was so popular with the masses, the powers decided to exile him.

The locals wanted to give him a fitting farewell, but did not want to be recognised as friends or well-wishers of a persona-non-grata. So the town turned out in force to see him off. Every man, woman and child masked beyond recognition.

Bakemono also means monster.

In the days of yore, during the Tenjin Matsuri, the bakemono could enter any home without fear of impunity. According to our friends here, some of the gentlemen who used to play the bakemono used this as an opportunity to visit their favourite ladies!

These are the Shinto priests leading the parade.

The next section of the parade were the traditional dances. This particular dance looked a little like the dandiya performed in a kimono! I didn't get around to taking any video, but picture a dandiya filmed in excruciatingly slow motion, and played back is slow motion! Yes, it was that slow!

Arun wondered if these people had ever watched a dandiya or a garba. I wouldn't recommend it. We wouldn't want then to suffer from motion sickness, would we?

This little girl was the youngest participant in the traditional dances. Looked like a Japanese doll! Aditi and Nadiya were thoroughly fascinated by her costume.

I really shouldn't have listened to Arun's suggestions for the right place to watch the parade. By the time the bakemono got to us, all they had was fruit juice.. they were all out of sake!!! Next year, we find a place closer to where the parade starts! Is there any point in missing out on as much free sake as you can drink?

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