Sunday, 29 January 2012

Tengu Trail

Every year, the weekend before Setsubun, there is a Tengu Festival in Shimokitazawa. When I first heard about this, I was delighted: fresh from my Tengu studies earlier this month, I was looking forward to seeing Tengu in real life.

I wasn't disappointed. The festival starts on Friday evening, when bars and restaurants around Shimokitazawa's Ichibangai get ready for a visit from Karasu Tengu. Not everywhere gets so blessed, but I was with Tengu fans and we had done our homework. Iida, possibly my new favourite Izakaya(it actually does desserts) looked like any other nice bar - until suddenly the doorway filled with a monster

We'd got there just in time for Karasu Tengu!

The town crier (left) wore special Tengu gloves, and he gave a pair to me

And that wasn't all. The following day, Karasu Tengu

was joined by Daitengu

and Daitengu effigies of all shapes and sizes

The streets were packed with Tengu lovers from all over Tokyo, some of whom carried this special parasol (a new lesson - Tengu don't like bright Japanese winter weather...they prefer to be in the mountains, under trees)

 Drums were beaten in honour of Tengu

Fake beards were donned, for reasons beyond my limited imagination

Everybody had a good time performing 'mame-maki' (throwing, catching, and eating roasted soy beans at spirits to keep the bad ones away, and welcome the good ones)

I caught a bag of beans and kept them as a souvenir

...but my favourite Tengu was perhaps this poor soul sitting at the side of the street. Perhaps he'd been here since last year

If all festivals were as fun as this, no-one would ever do any work!

So when's the next festival, again?

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