Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

Noh, often associated with the masks worn by actors playing certain roles, is widely regarded as Japan's oldest surviving performance art, with 650 years of history. (There are, of course, many older arts, such as Kagura ritual dancing, but those were developed for the entertainment of the gods, not for entertaining humans.) The stories portrayed … Continue reading Saying “yes” to Noh: Oyama’s Takigi Noh Fire Festival

Kanda Matsuri: a major spectacle not to be missed

Every two years, in odd-numbered years, Tokyo sees one of the three largest festivals in Japan, the Kanda Matsuri of Kanda Myojin Shrine.  This year, the biggest, most spectacular part of the festival is this week-end:  May 11 and 12.  Saturday, May 11 is the main procession, when Kanda Myojin's o-mikoshi, portable shrines, are paraded … Continue reading Kanda Matsuri: a major spectacle not to be missed

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Tomioka Hachiman Shrine sits in the historic Fukagawa district of Tokyo, a neighborhood that developed and flourished during the Tokugawa shogunate (1602-1868) when Tokyo was known as Edo.  Indeed, the history of the shrine, founded in 1627, is inextricably tied to that of Edo. Edo began its life as a fishing village wedged between rivers … Continue reading Tomioka Hachiman Shrine: conflicts, cartography, and other “stuff”

Jiyugaoka’s Kumano Shrine festival – celebrating the harvest

Jiyugaoka has a reputation for being a trendy area to shop, dine and relax with friends.  Its narrow brick or stone-paved laneways lined with shops and eateries are inviting to pedestrians.  One could spend hours meandering here. This week-end (September 1-2, 2018), however, suburban Jiyugaoka returns to its agrarian roots as its local shrine celebrates … Continue reading Jiyugaoka’s Kumano Shrine festival – celebrating the harvest

Lanterns and dancing: the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival

The moon is full, the night is balmy, and you just wanna kick up your heels and dance!  Maybe that sentiment explains the origins of the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival taking place this weekend at Anamori Inari Shrine near Haneda Airport. There is still time to join the Saturday night portion of the festival, or … Continue reading Lanterns and dancing: the Anamori Inari Lantern Festival