Aug 26, 2012

Summer is a time for festivals @ Niigata

First weekend of August every year is designated as the city festival time of the City of Niigata. So it started as ever with the Grand Dancing Gala in center of the city on 3 August.

Usually this kind of summer festivals are connected to local Shinto shrine in many places in Japan.  But for number of major cities have their own invented festivals because cities themselves are products of several amalgamation and final products do not have any connection with local religious traditions.  Usually with in such big cities, there are several local communities which have their own traditional festivals.  Niigata city decided to organize their own 3 day festival which includes several of those traditional local festivals also.

But the main events of the festival in Niigata are this Grand Dancing Gala and the Hanibi Night (fireworks show).  The Dancing Gala starts from the city's main rail way station, crossing the bridge over the main Shinanogawa river and continue to the old shopping area.  So dancing stretches over more than 2 km of main street of Niigata city.  People just dance from 7 to 9 pm and the dance music is Minyo which is local traditional songs of the area. (This kind of traditional dancing during the summer time is originally connected to Buddhist tradition of Obon which is a festival of Souls. During this period, souls of departed ancestors come back to their houses. Dancing during this Obon period was called Bon-odori or Bon dancing.  It was a kind of religious ceremony held to send off these spirits.  But later it become local festivals of entertainment)

To end the annual summer festival of Niigata city, Hanabi show was provided by the city government on the 3rd day which is the Sunday evening from 7 to 9 pm. All these beautiful and powerful Hanabi have been sponsored by local private companies and before they are fired to the evening sky, names of these sponsors are announced. A member of the Cathedral parish invited us to go up to her apartment roof top to enjoy the view with good glasses of beer. I can not show you the real picture of Hanabi this evening. It was too far a way to take photos and, in fact in such a hot and humid summer evening, drinking beer is much more important than watching Hanabi.

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