Annecy Paysages art festival

Annecy Paysages is an open-air art festival taking place in the center of Annecy this summer, until the beginning of September. Here is a map of all the artworks. There are a few events outside the city as well.

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Gojoten Shrine Festival

Gojoten Jinja (五条天神社) is a shinto shrine located inside Ueno Park. It holds its annual festival in May. In 2014, it was at the same time as the Yushima Tenmangu shrine festival: I was walking away from that festival when I saw another mikoshi parade just across Chuo Dori.

Above, priestess on a horse.

Above, taiko drum band.

Below, some pictures of the shrine taken another time.

Above, entrance of Hanazono Inari Shrine and Gojoten Shrine from Ueno Park.

Above, the main building of the shrine.

Above, Gojoten Shrine during sakura season.

Yushima Tenmangu Shrine Festival

Yushima Tenmangu (湯島天満宮), also known as Yushima Tenjin (湯島天神), is a shinto shrine in Bunkyo, not far from Ueno Park. It holds its annual festival in May.

Above, ema plaques. The shrine is dedicated to Tenjin, the god of learning, and is popular with students hoping to pass the entrance exam to the nearby University of Tokyo.

Above, Hyottoko.

Above, female taiko drum band.

Hanazono Shrine Festival

Hanazono Jinja (花園神社) is a shinto shrine in Shinjuku, right next to Kabukicho. It holds its annual festival in May. As usual in Japanese festivals, there are many food and game stalls on the grounds of the shrine, while the mikoshi are paraded around the neighbourhood.

Above, banana-choco.

Above, mikoshi at rest.

Above, someone dressed as a tengu.

Above, pulling the chariot with the musicians.

Above, festival pig.

Above, parading on Yasukuni Dori.

Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

Sanja Matsuri is a festival held in Asakusa every year in May. It celebrates the three people involved in the creation of Senso-ji and later enshrined as Shinto kami in Asakusa Shrine, next to the temple. It is one of the biggest festivals in Tokyo, with about 100 mikoshi (portable shrines) paraded around the neighbourhood.

Above, cats on Kaminarimon.

Above, Asakusa Shrine.

Above, ema plaque for the festival, showing the legend of how Senso-ji was founded.

Observatory of Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center

The Asakusa Culture Tourist Information Center is a modern building located in front of the Kaminarimon Gate of Senso-ji, in Asakusa. The top floor has a cafe, as well as a freely accessible observatory with a great view on Senso-ji and Tokyo Skytree.

Above, Tokyo Skytree.

Above, Kaminarimon Gate, Nakamise Street and Senso-ji.

Above, Azuma Bridge and Sumida River.

Sagami River Koinobori Matsuri

The day before Children’s Day (May 5th), I went to Suigotana (水郷田名), in Sagamihara City (Kanagawa prefecture), to visit the Sagami River Koinobori Matsuri. Koinobori are carp-shaped wind socks traditionally used to celebrate that day. During the festival, over 1,200 koinoboris are hoisted up to blow in the wind (which fortunately was very strong that day).

Kurayami Matsuri

In May, I attended the Kurayami Matsuri (Darkness Festival) held at Okunitama Shrine in Fuchu City, Tokyo. It was one of the biggest festivals I have been to. It lasted for a few days but I only went there once. The day I attended was the day of the mantou competition (万灯大会): It is a contest between neighbourhood groups about which team can hold a decorated pole and twirl it around the longest. There were also other events involving mikoshi and children dancing to hayashi music. Unfortunately, I missed the main event, which is the carrying of mikoshi at night.

Above, shishi (lion) dancers.

Above, hayashi dancing by children.

Above, hayashi dancing by children. I love the masks! Boys wear Hyottoko masks and girls Okame masks.

Above, gate of Okunitama Shrine.

Above, mantou pole before the competition.

Above, mikoshi.

Above, start of the mantou competition.

Above, one of the famous drums.

Above, it is considered good luck to shake hands with the dancer.

Azalea Festival at Shiofune Kannon-ji Temple in Ome

While I was in the Ome area, I went to see the azalea festival at Shiofune Kannon-ji Temple (塩船観音寺). The temple is surrounded by a huge azalea garden with a giant statue of Kannon watching over it.

Above, bell. It is possible to ring it for 100 yen.