Every year the Himeji Castle Festival features a grand parade on one day of the weekend festival.
The festival also features stage shows, a gathering of Yosakoi dancers, a display of vintage cars, free admission to Himeji Zoo (also a night zoo) and an artistic light display.
This photo journal (and later parts that will provide additional coverage) is from parade day on Saturday May 12th.
|A yosakoi dance team takes the stage flourishing gold fans.|
|The male dancers in this yosakoi group have a golden image of Himeji Castle on their surcoats.|
|Dancers pivoting. The guy in the back looks especially animated.|
|A nice pose amid the dance choreography. Too bad the giant flag pole was waved in front of the shot at this moment.|
|Getting those low shots of the parade as lines of people pass by.|
|Kasa Odori dancer weating a yukata.|
|Kasa Odori dancers.|
|Older ladies doing a baton dance. I like the frozen moment as the baton is caught mid twirl without being grasped.|
|Batman and some super sentai characters promoting a charitable cause.|
|A hood ornament on a vintage car. Shot with a snow-cross filter for the 6-point sparkle effect.|
|An interesting car on display.|
|Okinawa-style "Esa" dancers/drummers.|
|Hogo-chan the Revival Penguin from the chamber of commerce.|
|One of the little esa drummers/dancers getting worn out from all that drumming/dancing.|
|Yosakoi dancers parading down the street.|
|Yosakoi dance teams often have these huge flags.|
On of these flags has a colorful image of Himeji Castle.
|The esa dance/drum group clown takes a break...|
Why so serious?
|Dazzling colors of a shishimai dance.|
|Shishimai dance kids.|
|This shishimai breaks with the traditional green cloth.|
|Kids having had enough of the hot sun.|
|A school dance group.|
|Yamabushi, a type of traditional hermit monk in Japan.|
|An interesting car.|
|A strange European car with one door place of the front.|
|Another shot of this unusual Rolls Royce (?)|
|Awa Odori dancer in the traditional outfit.|
|A small girl with the Awa Odori group.|
|A shot showing how Awa Odori dancers lean on the toes of their geta.|
|Awa Odori dancers demonstrating impression synchronization.|
|The dancers with interesting designs on the surcoats.|
|Samurai yaroi armor with a menpo face mask.|
|A volunteer dressed with the iconic bowl-shaped helmet of Himeji hero, Kanbe Kuroda.|
|A day-time view of the umbrella wall featured in the earlier light-up post.|
|People in samurai armor preparing for the parade.|
The boy in red wears armor based upon Sanada Yukimura, hero from the seige of Osaka Castle.
The man in the white armor looks like a storm trooper from Star Wars.
|The banner in the back also has the "maru ni hidari hanare tachi aoi" crest.|
The man in the front has an unusual pole with golden orbs wears the "lone cedar" crest ("ippon sugi" kamon / 一本杉) which was used by the Ogi clan from the Omiwa area in Nara.
|Kanbe-chan the mascot of Himeji castle with another mascot (probably based on Sen-hime).|
|The Bishu Okayama Castle Gun Unit, who presented a gun demonstration earlier in the day, marching past modern military vehicles.|
|A cute girl posing for photos on a military motorcycle.|
|The SDF (Self Defense Force) of Japan displaying modern artillery pieces in front of Himeji Castle.|
|Benkei, the hero monk, hanging out with staff of a maid cafe, "Pure Hearts."|
|Banner with the "Bizen Chou" emblem. This is connected to the Ikeda clan which was connected to Nobunaga. I am not sure if the double bars and color scheme changes the specific meaning of the bizen chou.|
|Komuso, masked ronin who became (or posed as) pious beggars.|
The practice was outlawed in the Edo period.
|A bi-lingual historical announcer provides information of speakers during the parade.|
|Komuso. The apron reads "Meian" |
Maybe a temple name?
|An unusual "kawari kabuto" (unusual ornate helmet).|
Note the 6-coin crest, roku-mon-sen kamon.
|Sengoku era costumes. The lady is wearing an "uchikatsugi."|
|Unusual geta sandals. Maybe a type of oiran?|
|A storm trooper samurai?|
|Unusually elaborate wood joining work on this segment of a castle beam.|
|A cast of samurai who appear at the castle every Saturday (if it is not raining).|
|The horns of this kawari-kabuto are framed nicely with the castle in the background.|
|Benkei checking his cell phone.|
|Samurai with a long odachi sword passing in front of Himeji Castle.|
|Nice view of an odachi sword.|
|Kanbe rallying the troops?|
|Shouldering a nodachi. Note the long saya being held in his other hand.|
The other man with the conch shell has an encircles triple triangle crest on his helmet (maru ni sankusoutsu kamon)- perhaps representing the Hojo clan?