November 3 is a national holiday in Japan – a day to celebrate culture. The part of Asakusa where we are staying has a bit of a holiday feel to it most of the time – this is an entertainment district historically and it still has many theatres, bars and an amusement park. But it is also a residential area and there are many small businesses here. Big ones, too. Lots of bustle, all the time. And even the weekends have a sense of ‘getting things done’. This past Thursday was Culture Day and the vibe around here was very different. This wasn’t a work day. It wasn’t even a ‘doing the Saturday errands day’. It was a holiday. It didn’t hurt that it was 20C and sunny.
We had seen a poster for a taiko drum festival, and scoped out where we thought it would be, so off we went. One thing about a drum festival – it is not hard to find! Just follow your ears….
The park is right beside the Sumida River, with the SkyTree as a pretty cool backdrop. It was hot! I wasn’t the only person who forgot their hat and had to wear their handkerchief on their head, as you can see. Wilf kindly did not record that, but suffice it say I fit right in with the crowd – handkerchief on head, brochure as a visor.
Anyhoo. The drums. The 12 groups varied from big to small. Most of them had their own equipement, but the two big drums on the stage were shared. I expect they’re pretty difficult to move around.
It was all fantastic. Some groups had little kids, some seemed to all be made up of women of a certain age, others appeared to be student groups. All were highly choreographed and the skill level was amazing.
It was great way to spend the afternoon. When we got back to our hotel we discovered that our street had a little ninja situation going on, but that is a tale for another day!
I’m glad I got to see the taiko festival. We have a taiko performance group in Victoria and they show up at all sorts of events and festivals. I always enjoy coming across them at the 10K road race, feeling the pulse of the drum before I can see them.