MITAMA MATSURI ‘FESTIVAL OF SOULS’

1947年(昭和22年)に始まり今年で67回目を迎えた「みたままつり」が今年も靖国神社で開催された。年齢、性別(中・高生、サラリーマン、子連れの家族、年配夫婦)に関係なく季節行事には沢山の人々が訪れ、ゲームや出し物を幸せそうに頬張る。遠くから足を運ぶ人や、地元の町内会の人たち。毎年、御遺族・戦友をはじめ、多くの崇敬者から献納いただいた「みあかし(献灯)」が境内いっぱいに掲げられ、「光の祭典」と呼ぶにふさわしい賑わいを見せる。境内には大小3万もを超える提灯げられ、九段の夜空を美しく演出。東京では、最も早いと言われている盆踊りやみこし振り、阿波踊りなどとさまざまな芸で来場者をお招き。「みたままつり」といえば、昭和の雰囲気を醸し出したお化け屋敷や見世物小屋なども楽しみの1つ。

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Throughout the year, seasonal events take place in Japan which bring all kinds of people together regardless of age, class, sex or religion. This includes New Years wishes in January, parties under the Cherry Blossoms in Spring and Fireworks in Summer. Summer Festivals are another such occasion and whilst they often take place at shrines and temples they are free from the dogma which typically surrounds religion and are inclusive of all. Yasukuni Shrine’s Mitama Matsuri ‘Festival of Souls’ is one of the biggest of such festivals in Tokyo. We were there for a couple of hours on Tuesday night amongst 30,000 lanterns and tens of thousands of people from all walks of Japanese life. Old ladies danced the traditional Obon Dance and high school girls ate traditional festival food whilst being pursued in ernest by High School boys. Gun ranges offered sun bleached posters featuring Johnny’s idols as prizes, Japanese Anime Character Masks rubbed cheeks with Western icons such as Betty Boo. An ‘Obake Yashiki’ (Haunted House) played the screams of those inside over a speaker with which the ring master of the neighboring Freak Show competed for custom. All just 10 minutes walk through the crowds and air thick with the smell of Okonomiyaki, yakitori and takoyaki to where quieter dances and enka performances were taking place. I wanted to take this opportunity to show how the colors and energy I present in my party photos are apparent throughout Japan.

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All Photos by Dan Bailey

1 Comment

  • Franzi says:

    Wow I love this! Wish I had been there… Great site :)
    does anybody know where I can get a Betty Boop mask like this?

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