Summer Festivals in Japan: A Quick Primer

Once the rainy season officially ends, Japanese people dress up in kimonos and costumes and celebrate the season with a bunch of local festivals. Last year, I took a bunch of pictures of the Koshigaya festival. It takes place over two days in front of the Minamikoshigaya/Shinkoshigaya Station complex.
 A large stage is set up in the taxi stand where performers dance and drummers bang on taiko drums. Meanwhile, a massive parade winds its way through the streets all around the station. I'm not really sure how big it actually is, but it takes over large area around the station (not just on this side!).
 Generally, the parade and stage performances are very similar. The dance is fairly simple at its most basic, basically involving stepping/walking while posing arms.
 There are dozens of groups participating in the parade with their own colors and styles of costumes, but they all do similar dances. I'm guessing there are differences to people in the know.
 Usually, groups are all women or all men.
 Sometimes kids are in on it. You can see a basic crossover step that seems to be common in all the dances, along with a bowed/hunched posture.
 There are drummers for each group and chanting.
 The hats and costumes are certainly worth seeing!
And finally, as with any event in Japan, there are stands set up selling goods. Some stands sell toys or have carnival-style games for kids, while plenty of stands sell food or drinks. And despite there being hundreds of stands there always seem to be long lines. But just as good as the costumes are the yukatas. It's pretty cool seeing all the ladies (and some of the guys) wearing yukatas - the women wear very bright, colorful yukatas and frequently wear flowers in their hair.

This year's festival is still about a month away, but now that I know what to expect I'll enjoy it even more and probably be able to learn more about it! But even without any knowledge of what's going on, visitors to Japan should try to see a festival while they're here.

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