Noheji Gion Festival

[Taylor]

In Japan I’d say just about every town has a festival or some well known event that takes place at the same time each year.  Every August, a few weeks after Nebuta, Noheji celebrates its Gion Festival — a four day event featuring parades, floats, food, fireworks, dancing, and music.

I think we’ve mentioned this before, but back in the day (in Japan this means hundreds of years ago) Noheji was a major shipping port.  We’ve been told that Noheji sort of acted like the middleman along maritime trade routes between Hokkaido and Kyoto (the old capital city).  As you can probably imagine, the sailors and merchants brought back some cultural elements of Kyoto in addition to goods and merchandise.

Nowhere is this more evident than the Noheji Gion Festival.  The Noheji Festival borrows heavily from the Kyoto Gion Festival.  The music, dancing, floats, and geisha style performers are all very similar.  Though to be fair, it’s not completely identical.

I mentioned earlier that just about every town has a festival.  The week before I was able to attend a festival in our neighbor town of Hiranai.  A person I was with explained the history of the festival and how its origins were rooted in religion.  He went on to add that nowadays people in Japan aren’t so religious and implied that the festival was more of a way to remember the past and the people who have come before us.  I think today’s Noheji Gion Festival serves a similar purpose.  People have been living in the Noheji area for hundreds years.  It seems the festival is an attempt to link this sense of history and tradition to the present.  Or maybe it’s just an excuse to have fun, eat fried food, and shoot off fireworks.

Anyway, on with the photos.

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