Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Hyakumangoku Matsuri, Kanazawa. THE best festival to see in Kanazawa

Ooh im so excited to write about this. This weekend was THE biggest and best festival in Kanazawa, the Hyakumangoku Matsuri (meaning of Hyakumangoku here). The festival is held in commemoration of Lord Maeda Toshiie's entry into Kanazawa castle way back in 1583. Maeda was one of the most powerful clan in ancient Japan. So, every year during the noon parade, there will be a re-enactment of the scene where someone will portray Lord Maeda riding the horse into the city.
The main attraction is the televised parade, over 1000 people performing along the streets of Kanazawa from Kanazawa station to the castle with a finale a re-enactment of the scene when Lord Maeda rides the horse into the city.

So get this, I was part of the procession!!

I found out through a girl I met Tammy (a Jet) who told me that every year a few gaijins (foreigners) are allowed to join the parade as churro (the Queen’s assistants) all dressed up looking like Japanese (well trying to…) Brilliant, I didn’t hesitate in signing up.
The day started at 9.30, we joined about 400 other Japanese girls to get dolled up
First our arms and face were whitened.

Then the make up- a scary amount of black eye liner, drawn on black eye brows and those little red geisha looking lips.

Next, the kimono which comprised of 3 separate layers (each layer heavier than the last) to which I was helped into by a volunteer. To be accurate it was a kimono without the obi (the big belt around your tummy which tucks you in nicely). This coupled with the fact I was given an orange one, made me look like a gigantic satsuma!

Last, the wig. Here’s me getting mine fitted, in fact actually getting it glues to my forehead and sides of my face!

The entire fitting process took about 4 hours. We were ready at last. We were whisked away by our awaiting carriages (buses) to Kanazawa station (starting point of procession) and were reunited with the guys in their samurai gear. I'm the giant satsuma on the far right.

At 3.30 the procession started. Wow is all I can say, a great performance of Japanese taiko drummers kicked off the show right outside the station, followed by marching bands, traditional dance groups then my favourite performance of the day, a bunch Kaga firemen doing stunts up these wobbly 20 ft bamboo ladders held only by 4 fellow fireman. No safety equipment whatsoever. WOW WOW WOW

I've nabbed this piccie of them from another site.

By 4pm we had started our extremely slow march behind our famous Queen (every year they pay a famous actor and actress 1 mill yen to pretend to be the Queen and King) The crowds and atmosphere was incredible. I felt very important! 2 hours later it was over; my feet were killing me & I was dying of thirst but oh so worth it.

Later at 6pm there was the Odori-Nagashi Odori procession and contest. Teams from different companies dressed in yukata of team colous all dance in Katamachi competing for the top bon odori team. I was en route home to scrape off the make-up..

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