Summer Festivals: Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

The Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri takes over the streets of downtown Shinjuku for a day every summer – this year it was on Saturday July 26.

I was actually on my way to meet a couple of friends for lunch when I stumbled across this festival. Well, I guess I can’t say I ‘stumbled’ across it when the drums could be heard blocks away! Shinjuku is always buzzing with activity. There are ALWAYS a lot of people. Something’s always going on. You kind of just get used to it and pass things by without a second glance. But on this day, the beating drums and excited crowds drew me in! After realising it was the Eisa Matsuri, I straight away remembered I’d actually stumbled across the same festival 3 years ago when I was visiting Tokyo with friends. I still have a fan I’d received there (pic below)! The 3.11 Earthquake was fresh in everyone’s minds and I remember the festival really emphasising the ‘togetherness’ of Japan, the importance of everyone coming together during such a hard time.

This year’s festival was just as vibrant as 2011. The summer sun was blaring and hand-held fans could be seen waving furiously among the crowd. The performers did a great job considering! Eisa is actually a Bon dance originating from Okinawa. Bon, or Obon, is a Buddhist custom that keeps the memory of ancestors alive. People get together and dance and sing and play taiko (drums) and flutes and shamisen (like a banjo). I think the original meaning has been lost a little over the years and these days it’s just a fun celebration! This year, there were 25 teams of performers, each from different universities, schools, companies, and clubs.

Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

Shinjuku Eisa Matsuri

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