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Kishimojo Matsuri Tokyo

Last night taking a different turn we went to an evening festival at Kishimojo Shinto shrine in Ikebukuro, or Zoshigaya Kishimojindo, dedicated to yet another Goddess of fertility and childbirth Kishimojin, a gold clad jinja surrounded in ancient ginko trees tucked away in a labyrinth of side streets.

Video of the Kishimojo Matsuri

As we arrived outside the Seibu Department store, we realized the procession was already under way with large lanterns powered by portable generators being wheeled to the main thoroughfare Meiji-dori, coalescing into a long train of giant lanterns interspersed with drumming groups, led by a pipe and glockenspiel band and dancers.

Festival lanterns whirled

At 7 pm the procession took off to loud fireworks crashing above the high rise neon-clad buildings, and a deafening combination of loud drumming, police whistles and traffic noise, overlaid with the lanterns, now being actively hurled around in combination with whirlygigs consisting of streamers on poles which the guys took it in turns to energize in a kind of virility dance.

There were woodwind and dum bands and teams of women beating flat drums like tennis rackets.

Whirling the whirlygigs to flat skin drumming

After donning industrial ear plugs we followed the procession through the crowds down Meiji-dori and into the narrow side streets which eventually led right up to the shrine, giving another taste of claustrophobia as everyone, the procession, onlookers and the neighbourhood faithful converged on the shrine entrance lined with brightly coloured sausage stalls and red and white lanterns.

The entrance to the shrine was packed with side stalls

All around there were covered food stalls where a vast multitude were having evening refreshments

The throng passing through the shrine

Each team performed on the steps of the shrine and gained a blessing from the priests and the entourage then moving in a loop back down the shrine steps and off to one side where a lantern lined avenue led on to the local Buddhist temple, Homyoji, where the teams were all blessed again after yet another tattoo of drumming and whirling, in a short reading of sutras before disbanding into the night.

Final blessings at the Homoyo-ji Buddhist temple

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