Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Himeji Castle Festival Grand Parade


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 dancers.

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.

The samurai costume group posing for individual photos as the prepare for the parade.
The crest seen here is called the "maru ni hidari hanare tachi aoi" ("encircled left split branch hollylock tree") and is similar to the emblem used by Kamo Shrine in Kyoto, I am not sure which clan it is associated with ??

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).

Sanada Yukimura.
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.

Himeji Castle.

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?