Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival

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The festival began with us walking up a long flight of stairs light by these lanterns. It was much prettier than the picture shows.

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A view of the entrance to the shrine. To my back is the first picture.

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It started with some priests praying to the god of something which was supposedly in the shrine at that moment. This went on for about 20 minutes, then two lines of men dressed in sheets lined up. Later they were blessed by the main priest and then went over to the fire and lit torches. They took the torches down the stairs and then down the street to start the festival parade.

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Here they are marching with the torches out the gate and down the stairs. There were taiko drums in the background being played which added a nice feeling to the opening event.

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The source of the taiko drum sounds was later discovered to be some kids playing on a stage.

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We went back to the station to pick up more friends. On the left is Mihoko (the daughter of a local woman who owns a grocery that Kamery shops at frequently), Kamery (another ALT in the area, Scott (ALT from small town south of here), and Joy (ALT one stop away from Kamery). Also in the picture is Mr Panda San.

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Chocolate covered bananas with little faces on them. Almost too cute to eat. I said almost.

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Long story. First Scott and I went looking for Sake and what do you know but here is a stand with free sake for people IN the festival or foreigners who will speak English with the locals for a minute. This guy was talking to us for a bit and I said I was from Atlanta, and he said "Olympics" and then Scott said he was from Philly, and the guy said "Oh I studied English in Glenville", which was Scott's small hometown. That really freaked him out and they chatted a bit while I snapped the pic. Notice the cup of free sake.

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Hard to see since it was dark, but there were several hundred people in the street jumping up and down chanting "wah shoy wah shoy yea yea yea yea". I forgot what it means. But it was really cool since there was a lot of energy. They were following the lantern thingy on wheels.

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The lantern thingy on wheels being pulled and pushed throughout the city. This only shows part but there is a top arm that is about another 50 feet in the air with actual candle lit lanterns on it.

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Taking a break from the festivities to watch Karen play a taiko drum for a while. Squatting in the background is her BF Darwin, beside him is Eileen and Scott, and in the flowery shirt is Churchman from New Zealand.

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The 7 different floats are gathering near. Soon they will all form a big line at the station. It was quite cool.

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You can see how tall they were from this fine 2.1 Mega pixel picture.
A short video I took with no sound on my digital camera.