Sunday, July 31, 2005


It’s our summer festival season!

Uchiwa fan and ringo-ame (candy-coated apple) from Kagamigawa Festival

This Kagamigawa Festival is held on the last 3 days of July every year on the riverbank of the Kagamigawa (Kagami river) which runs through Kochi city. Kagami means mirror in Japanese, and as the name indicates, the river water looks fairly clean.

I don’t know how and when this festival started, but at least now there seems to be almost no religious aspect attached to it. (I’m not sure, though, because it is held right next to a big shrine…) Anyway, at this festival, many food/drink stalls line up and events such as game shows, a haunted house and Karaoke contest take place. Usually several professional singers and impersonators come and have small concerts/shows during this festival.

The path to the festival venue on the riverbank was decorated with many lanterns. The square ones underneith the red-and-white ones were lanterns made of Japanese paper with pictures by local elementary school kids on. When they were lit at night, they looked like this.

The 2 main attractions of this festival are flower towers and whale-shaped floats.

This is one of the two flower towers on the riverbank. I couldn’t find any background information on the net about the flower towers of this festival, except that they may be a remnant of decorated floats people used for religious festivals in the past…before WWII. The square part at the bottom was like a small tunnel and people could walk through it. When the lanterns were lit late in the evening, the top part started turning slowly.

The whales must be a parent and a child. A name of our local Sake brand was written all over the bigger one. I heard that the daddy (I think... it doesn't look like a mom, does it?) whale could pump up the river water and blow it up in the air as high as 50 m.

It was so nice to see young girls and even guys in yukata (lighter kimono for summer season). Though I don’t have one, I really love yukata. In the past, there were times that the Japanese was so obsessed with being Westernized and disregarded traditional clothes including yukata. It has been changing, though. These days, even teenagers’ magazines feature “how to put on yukata by yourself” and I’m happy about it.

I love to take a look at the toys they sell at the festival, especially this kind of masks. They keep me updeated with what kind of animation characters are popular among kids now.

It was so nice sitting by the river, enjoying the refreshing breeze and watching the whale blowing the river water up in the air. These girls were sitting right in front of me and didn't know that I took a shot of them.

Daddy whale at work (Sorry, blurred pic !)

What was terrible was that the place was way too crowded!! The site was flooded with people going from one place to another and those waiting in lines in front of food stalls. It took hours to get beers and some food for me and my friend, mainly because I couldn’t make my way through the crowd. We were starving and I was so stressed while standing in line for a L O N G time to buy us yakitori, age-takoyaki (deep-fried takoyaki), French fries and beers.

After we finished our first round of food and drink, my friend went into the crowd again to get us edamame and some more beers. Of course we didn’t leave there without eating ice cream. :) I didn’t take any pic of the food we had there. I told you, we were starving. 

And the flower tower looked so beautiful in the dark.
posted by obachan, 7/31/2005 05:50:00 PM


Why don't we have street festivals that go on all day and night here in the US?

Not fair! 

Posted by joanna
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/02/2005 3:23 AM  
Oh, you don't ? I thought I saw some when I was in Miss., but maybe they were not street festivals. This kagamigawa festival was from 18:00 to 22:00 (started an hour earlier on the last day.) But the upcoming big dance festival will be from 11:00 to 21:00 ! 

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/02/2005 10:05 AM  
The festival looks so wonderful...I'm glad to see the young people wearing traditional clothes again. Tradition is so important. And so practical. A yukata is so comfortable to wear in the heat. No clothes sticking to your body. and the cotton is so cooling. I remember walking from the baths to our apartment in a yukata. How wonderful it felt after being in the hot bath and how cool it felt walking home. Ahhhh. wonderful memories... 

Posted by Carlyn
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/04/2005 8:00 PM  
I like our traditional clothes and want to be able to put them on myself, but never want to wear them every day. Unfortunately they are not very practical for me, because I have to ride a bicycle every day. Even the closest sento is not within a walking distance, and I would never want to walk back from there at night. You were so lucky that you lived in such a safe place while in Japan. 

Posted by obachan
commented by Anonymous Anonymous, 8/06/2005 11:45 AM  

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