It's that time of year where we just enter the Autumn season - still quite warm but a lot cooler at night - at least its a bit easier to sleep ><
Its also the Autumn Matsuri [秋祭り] (Autumn Festival) season - traditionally held to give thanks and celebrate the harvest from the farms.
During this time, the streets are lined with lanterns, Omikoshi are carried through the streets and shrines would be filled with hawker stalls which provide food and entertainment for the locals. If you are a regular viewer of anime then you may have seen some of this stuff already ^^
Wifey and I visited our local Matsuri at Himonya yesterday and took a few pics.
Many roads in Japan don't have pavements - we walk on the side of the roads. As there are many folk out n about at this time, you will see guards who have been hired to control the traffic of cars.
The roads are not legally blocked but from the goodwill of locals, drivers generally agree to take a detour around the heavily pedestrianised area.
Only for particularly large Matsuri are police called in to help control the flow of traffic.
Folka rarely sit in the streets but Matsuri time is an exception.
Now its time to check out the gourmet at the Matsuri!
This dish is called Jaga Butter - steamed potato.
Jaga Butter is normally served with a dollop of butter and other seasonings such as pepper, salt and spicy chilli if you fancy.
You need to make sure there is enough butter and seasonings so that when you get to the bottom of the cup you don't end up with just potato.
Served on a chopstick with ketchup and mustard.
Cucumber is usually smeared with miso and sprinkled with salt - a bit too much miso on this one though ><
Baked mochi rice cake with various seasonings.
Various seasonings from miso to soy sauce.
Squids being given the going over on the hot plate.
Does not look all that but tastes great ^o^
Kushi - skewered meat.
Served with a sprinkle of salt and pepper only - tastes gorgeous.
Takoyaki - grilled octopus balls.
Ingredients are poured over the grill and when one side is done...
...the ingredients are turned over like this to grill the other side to form a ball.
Castella - should eat at the end of your food marathon as its kinda like a dessert.
At some smaller Matsuri, you need to buy food vouchers first like these ones.
Grilled Ayu sprinkled with salt.
Be prepared to go back home smelling like food - especially as there are a load of vendors like this one billowing smoke from his grill ^^;
Candy floss with the appropriate bag to entice the kids into saying "Mum I want that one!"
Okonomiyaki - its kinda like a pancake.
Speaking of which...
I don't think I could bring myself to eat these - not in public anyway.
Kebabs are quite popular at such Matsuri too.
While it can get a bit crowded and noisy, you can experience a really nice traditional Japanese atmosphere at a Matsuri.
Pay for a scoop to see how many balls you can pick out of the water - kids love it.
You will see many goodies on display like this which gives you the impression that they are up for grabs - but you are more than likely going to end up winning something like a rubber band instead ><
As you have seen from anime - smoking is a culture over here - even the guy selling stuff to kids smokes ><
While its illegal to carry around airguns in other countries - in Japan not so. During a Matsuri you will often see a bunch of boys running around with their new prizes.
Shateki [射的] is where one shoots some cork at targets - targets which are often weighed down with lead so that there is no chance the target will fall - but its OK because the kids don't know that.
More water games - catch the eel and eat it ^^;
This is Kingyo Sukui [金魚すくい] where you catch as many gold fish as possible with a hoop of thin paper which gradually breaks. We play sometimes but end up giving the fish to some passing by kids.
Plastic bottles in Japan are commonly known as "Pet Bottle" because they are made from Polyethylene Terephthalate.
Stage acts are also available to enjoy depending on the shrine you visit.
The well of water at the entrance of a shrine where you are supposed to purify yourself by washing your hands before entry.
The bunch of people you see here are playing "Kata Nuki" [型ぬき].
What happens with Kata Nuki is that you are supposed to remove all the bits around the shape in that pink block - obviously making sure that the object inside remains in one piece.
Kinda like pachinko.
Lanterns line the streets at this time of year - they even look great by day.
Lanterns are sponsored by the locals whose name will appear on a board like this to show how much they put down. The money is used to fund the lanterns and the local Matsuri.
If you visit Japan, make sure to venture into the residential areas too.
And here is an Omikoshi - a portable Shinto shrine for the gods and spirits.
Omikoshi are bobbed up and down the streets - see one in action below.
Many locals come out to enjoy the festivities but despite the number of people out n about...
...a few mins later not a trace of rubbish in sight. Only in Japan ^o^
Other places to visit in Japan listed up below.