Daimyos, geishas and a glimpse in history

Today is what?

It’s 3rd of November.

And why do we care about it?

Because it’s a HOLIDAY~ ! That, plus the fact that the reason of skipping work is to honor 文化の日-“Culture day”. The closest cultural attraction to me was the Daimyo march in Hakone, a festival that is held yearly after WWII. Essentially, the locals dress up with costumes from Edo period and walk around Hakone Yumoto. The marching groups consisted of school bands, an American army band, samurai, daimyo, men-at-arms, high and low level soldiers, attendants, African samurai, geishas, maikos, dancers and the omnipresent hairstylist who fixed the women’s wigs. There was a girl with an elaborate kimono, fancy hair ornaments and a gigantic red umbrella, but I couldn’t figure out who she was supposed to be. Among the participants were also the town mayor and special guests, such as the apparently super famous sumo wrestler Hanada Masaru, to whom everyone kept referring as “oniichan” (little brother). That guy for sure mesmerized everyone, because the crowd seemed to start loosing it when he approached, screaming “Ganbatte oniichan” and trying to hold his hand. A number of people exclaimed “He is obviously large” (as expected of sumo wrestlers), whereas a few criticized that “He is not big at all”(contrary to what is expected of sumo wrestlers). In my opinion, he was indeed small, but that is usual for out-of-action wrestlers. It’s irrational to keep up with such a heavy body if you are not putting it into good use daily.

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The vibe of the march was cozy and neighborly, with the crowd screaming jokes to the participants or supporting them when they lost their balance while dancing.  Although event volunteers kept handing out collectible stickers in  commemoration of the event to the crowd, my special moment came when a maiko smiled, approached and gave me a *special* sticker, just for me (hooray, level up!).  Interestingly, I was surprised that no one hardly clapped, though I am not sure whether it was due to respect to the performances or just it’s not Japanese-style to be noisy. At some point, loud gunshots (part of the gunmen performance) interrupted the calmness and scared some birds. The most interesting performance was that of the “commoners” who were carrying the lord’s belongings, a dance which comprised of silly faces, leg balancing and throwing long staffs to each other.  The parade came to an end close to Hakone Yumoto station and the crowd dispersed to nearby restaurants, cafe and onsen. The kouyou (autumn read leaves) responsible for the famous scenery of Hakone was not red enough, so after spending a couple minutes shopping bath powders that enhanse with onsen minerals your simple house bath, I headed home, where I arrived having “accidentally” bought a pizza. How can someone “accidentally” buy a full size pizza, you may wonder. Well, if it makes you feel better, I don’t know either!


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