Takayama Spring Festival with Sakura

I wasn't necessarily planning on attending Takayama's Spring Festival this year, but because of the mild and warm winter, it's a rare opportunity to catch the festival at the same time as the Sakura trees are in full bloom. For the past 3 years, the Sakura trees haves bloomed two weeks later.

But not this year. The sakura trees look absolutely gorgeous. :D And, as I mentioned in this previous post, their shock of white and pink against the dark, black backdrop makes them pop.

Night Procession

The Takayama has 4 main events throughout its 2 day span. Perhaps the most attended event is the night procession. Just after dusk, the 12 or 13 floats are pulled through the downtown area. The float move through the "old" town, through the main road, and back through shopping area.

2 years ago, I wrote a fairly lengthy post about the festival, and details about each float. Check that out here: April 17th, 2014.

I got to the festival a little late this year, but I was still able to see everything near the tail end of the route.

Above is the first float, and it seems to be the same float in both spring and fall festivals. It's kagura-tai 神楽台 or "War Opener". It's not as tall as the other floats, but it's probably the loudest. On the top of the float, sits a large drum with drummer on both sides. Around the front and back are flutists playing the in unison with the other flutists paving the way. These musicians offer their music to god, and pave the way for the entire parade to follow.

The next floats in the parade were Sanbasou 三番叟, Jakkyou-tai 石橋台, and Ryuujin-tai 龍神台. These 3 floats are the ones that perform in the marionette showcase that happens 4 times throughout the 2-day festival. I should be able to attend that next year since it takes place on the weekend.

And floats continued to get pulled, and move by me. That's really all this parade is. Floats would stop for a while, and give the workers a rest. Then they'd get back on their ropes, and begin pulling the floats through the streets again.

I would set down my camera and take a few shots.

There was really only one large distinct sakura tree on the route. This was on the east end of nakabashi, or the "red" bridge. Thankfully some of the floats went passed it near the end of the parade. These were floats that were kept in garages in the "old' town 古い町並み.

The benefit, or deficit, from having been in Takayama for over 3 years now is the amount of random people, teachers, students, and former students I see at these kind of festivals. Every couple of minutes I hear, ジム先生! from somewhere and have to turn around and say hello back to them, or make small talk. It feels nice when you're in a pocket of other foreigners and the kids in the parade call you out. :)

Next year, I'll be able to take part of the day activities. Unless, it rains.


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