Sorry for any blurriness in advance.
This annual three day festival is famous across Japan as one of the best Tanabata festivals.
As a resident, I can not help but partake in the festivities. It also helps that part of it set up right outside my workplace.
Friday, I was only able to see a small part of it during lunch. Satuday night, however, I was able to explore for about an hour after work. My coworkers and I enjoyed some festival food and looked at the colorful decorations.
Today was my day off, so I decided to explore a bit. After looking around the building where I will be spending the next two weeks, I felt adventurous, and took a train to Atsuta Shrine.
Well, I took a few trains really, since I got on the train headed in the wrong direction. I first ended up in a small town in the middle of nowhere, before catching the correct train.
Once at the correct stop, I followed the throngs of people to the festival. Before heading in, I hit up the 7-11 for some snacks (everyone was).
Inside, there were tons of booths selling food and toys. There were the same booths over and over, selling grilled foods, fruit, noodles, sweets, and shaved ice. The crowds were so thick, it took me almost 3 hours to get through the entire shrine.
The areas closest to the actual shrines where the shinto gods are housed were actually not as crowded, compared to the food booths and the space where they planned to shoot off the fireworks.
I followed the lead of the people in front of me and paid my respects/asked for a good year.
I also made a wish at a small alcove, after I overheard a grandma explain how to do so to her grandson. It was tucked away in the back and consisted of splashing water 3x over a rock in a small stream.
On the way back to the exit, there was a small procession, where people carried wooden displays housing lanterns, through the crowd. I was able to take a video on my phone as they came through. You can see it HERE.
All in all, it was pretty cool, if a bit exhausting.
So, the festival…
There were certainly a lot of people this year. Mostly children.
As usual, there were stage shows (sword, dance, music, etc), calligraphy / origami demonstrations, kimono try-ons, and food, but trying to get anywhere near anything was near impossible.
The line to get to the food stands were insanely long. As in, across the park long. There were more foods available than usual. There was the junk food stand, a takoyaki (round balls of pancake with octopus bits in the center) stand, and a yaki-niku / yakisoba (grilled meat / noodle) stand. When we arrived, mom got on line to buy our lunches, but after twenty minutes of not moving, she grabbed some pastry and teas from the junk food stand.
Maybe next year…