|Karakuri marionette performance on the float.|
Takayama, situated some 120 kilometres North of Nagoya in the Japanese Alps, is a small town compared to Nagoya and the change of landscape was a breath of fresh air. The initial peacefulness, though, was about to change as we got closer to the old town and the crowd of tourists. The old town was very beautiful with traditional Japanese wooden houses and walking through the small alleys we eventually found our way to Hachiman shrine, the center of the festivities. The shrine was on a hillside enclosed with tall trees and in front of it, in the plaza, we saw a traditional Karakuri marionette performance.
|The floats and at the end of the road Hachiman shrine is barely visible.|
|The yatai were sumptuous.|
Most of the tourists were elder Japanese people and standing in the middle of the crowd I was head and shoulders above everyone else, which amused some of the older people who were trying to guess my height. The marionette performance was quite spectacular and I really have no clue as to how they managed to move the marionettes on the float and in the air. Leaving the temple we found the famous yatai, lavishly ornate floats, that are only displayed and paraded in the town during the Hachiman matsuri and its spring counterpart, Sanno matsuri.
|Ramen and Hida beef, yum.|
The next step was to eat and thanks to Lonely Planet we found a good ramen place where we could also taste Hida beef for a reasonable price. The meal was, and I'll probably never get tired of saying this, delicious. On a full stomach we went to see the procession that displays the mikoshi portable shrine, dancers, musicians and lion-dance performers, who purify the streets and rid them of devils. Instead of describing the parade any more precisely, here is a short video I took with my mobile, enjoy:
After the parade and some souvenir shopping we headed back to the train station to eat something and wait for our train to depart. The matsuri was impressive and definitely worth a visit to Takayama. I can recommend it!