Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Hoekago; Toka Ebisu Parade

Every year around January 10th, the shrines that are dedicated to Ebisu have a special festival. Ebisu is the god of commerce, fishermen and prosperity in general. The Ebisu shrine festivals run from the 9th to 11th. During the festivals visitors come to buy lucky charms and drop off the old charms from the previous year to be burned; in that process the evils that were absorbed by the charm are purified and the shrine can sell more charms.

The Toka Ebisu charms carry themes relating to Ebisu and others among the seven lucky gods and their treasure ship; bails of rice, a hammer that generates coins (wealth), Ebisu's fishing rod and sea breams (a type of fish associated with Ebisu and the New Years season).

On the main day of Toka Ebisu (January 10th) a procession of beauty queens ride palanquins and special rolling carts, called hoekago (town carts, like palanquins), while the procession chants "hoekago!" as they move along.

There is also a morning procession, but this year's photo journal focuses on the evening parade.

The procession starts at 18:30 in Soemon-cho (near Nipponbashi station) as the parade party, beauty queens and VIPs break open a sake barrel, pose for photos and then have the ladies climb aboard the hoekago. The parade makes one lap around the main Dotombori area (between Nipponbashi and Namba) and pauses briefly for some photos on Ebisu-bridge, in front of the landmark Glico sign.

The treasure ship of the seven lucky gods, an ema plate and a daruma doll in the form of haning LEDs near Namba station.

The hammer of fortune and the coins that fly from it (rather than sparks) when it strikes an anvil.

A stage set up next to Ebisu-bridge.

The bright lights of Dotombori.

The idle Ferris wheel of Don Quixote.

A barrel of sake is smashed open and servings are poured by the fuku-musume (lucky maidens).

Cheers! Directly to the lips of Ebisu!

A hanging rope helps the girls keep balance.

A close-up shot on a fuku-musume face.

The parade allows for the models to be framed against different backgrounds.

Passing one of the famous Kani-Doraku mechanical restaurant signs.

Most of the vehicles are pushed along on wheels but this palanquin is carried with sheer muscle.

I like the weeping willow tree as a backdrop for the hoekago in this shot.
I always try to imagine the old Dotombori when I see that tree as a lonesome remnant of nature there.

Hoekago approaching the famous Kuidaore Taro mechanical clown drummer.

A tighting framing focuses on the relationship between the girl and Kuidaore Taro, this time the girl seems to be facing and waving at the drummer boy.

The famously colorful street ads of Dotombori.

Note the police box and the neon signs in the background.

These three-quarter angles show of the girls' hair-styling while outlining youthful facial features.

Colorful lights in the background against the floral stylings of the hoekago.

Hoekago with a miniature version of the Don Quixote Ferris wheel in the background.