Sunday, April 20, 2008

Seki Festival

Seki city, nestled in the base of Gifu Prefecture, with a lovely mountain backdrop, holds a special place in my heart. It was where I lived for my first year in Japan. It isn't a terribly exciting city, nor especially beautiful. But it has a wonderful sense of community and I made some very close friends there who will remain dear to me for the rest of my life.

Traditionally, Seki was a sword making town and in modern times has turned that trade into the creation of superior quality knives and other blades. Much of the city is involved in knife production in one way or another.

In April, they hold their Spring festival. This year, in the afternoon, dance teams from the Nagoya Do Matsuri performed for the crowd before the evening's event. What I love about this festival, is that the floats are different every year. There is a yearly competition between companies to create different floats and they are paraded down the old main street for judging. The floats are like giant lanterns, usually lit from the inside and sometime created to open up or have moving parts.

Even the dogs had dressed up for the night.

The floats are not pulled, but rather carried through the streets. Behind each float was a beer or sake cart to stop the boys from getting thirsty along the way. The further the float gets along the street, the wilder the path of the float becomes.

I had to take this shot for Contamination. Knew he'd like it.

There was one traditional float.

The Zenmai Zamurai made an appearance.

This was my favourite float of the night. The knife moved back and forth and the dragon's head up and down.

In this sword-making town, there had to be at least one sword-themed float.

The sword float opened up to reveal two moving puppets making swords in the traditional way and in Shinto dress.

This float was a lot like those in the Mino Spring Festival.

A Shachihoko. The mythical beast that adorns the rooftop of the Nagoya Castle.
As I will be saying a lot this year, sadly, this will be our last time in a while to go to this festival. I will miss it.


Jason R. Taylor said...

amazing floats!

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

They really were! said...

great pictures...thank you for the insight

Melanie Gray Augustin said...


tamakikat said...

Hi there.
At first I thought these floats were of the Aomori Nebuta Festival. Glad to see there's something closer to home but just as much of a spectacle.

Melanie Gray Augustin said...

Yeh, there are so many great little festivals around. I've been to a couple of the big ones and haven't enjoyed them as much as the smaller ones. At the really popular ones, because there are so many people, it has to be so much more ordered. At the local ones, you feel like you can become part of the celebrations.