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This is going to be a loooong post… I have a TON of pictures!

Fujioka Matsuri, called FujiMatsu by the kids, is the highlight of summer in the city. I’ve been waiting for this weekend for forever! We went out Saturday morning and caught the preparations going on in the main square for the start of the festival that afternoon!

Preparations at Chuo Kouen for the sumo and dance stages, Dashi out and ready for the next day, and food stands setting up!

Lanterns along the main street. They hadn’t closed it to traffic yet. And one of the neighborhood stations.

Our neighborhood, Icchome’s, Dashi.

We met at around 5pm to get the mikoshi ready. The guys are wrapping the planks with white and red cloth.

While they did that we went and watched a bit of the kid’s mikoshi event. So cute!

And who do I see, but students!

We go back for the practice and then to change and eat dinner provided by the BOE.

I forgot a piece of my clothes so I ran home… tabi and stairs! I kinda like this picture!

The mikoshi… it doesn’t look like it would be heavy, does it?

We pose for a picture then move the mikoshi to our practice place.

We run out to catch one of the ladies dances while we wait for the signal to start. And of course, more students!

The whole mikoshi group together!

I’m given lantern duty in front of the mikoshi, and switch out for Shauna every time we stop… which is pretty often!

Two of my FAVORITE students! And we also met my principal, vp, and teachers too!

Then they say, hey, get on! So I ride around on top for a bit and now my picture is on the BOE’s front page >.>

We were followed around by a giant cooler of drinks, so we were having lots of fun by the end of it! We didn’t have much of a chance to enjoy the festival though, since we had to be there early at the practice. Thank goodness it was over two days!

The next day even though we were helping our neighborhood pull our dashi, we had more time to see the festival. First we swung by Chuo Kouen to catch the tail end of sumo and the beginning of the dances. We didn’t see much sumo, but did get to see Naomi’s niece dance. She’s so cute! I also caught sight of some of my elementary students!

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Kid’s sumo and dancing at the park

Mmmmmm festival food. Yummy kebabs!

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Kids dance the Fujioka theme song, which is oddly Brazilian. Scott and the taiko group lead the way! They had a performance too, but we missed that.

After buying drinks at Piago, Kenji’s barber invited us to sit outside his shop, so we got to sit and drink while everything passed us by!

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They also got us to climb into the dashi for a picture… lemme tell you, climbing in yukata is no easy feat!

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More students! One of Kenji’s kids gave me that strawberry keitai charm. How sweet!

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Finally it was time to get changed. Men get the red shirts like Kenji’s wearing, mine was blue. Don’t know why the difference, but there you go!

Icchoume dashi and oyaji-san in front!

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There was a ceremony to bless each of the dashi

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And plenty of waiting around and pictures!

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5 of the neighborhood’s dashi

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Then we were on our way! And man, it is HEAVY!

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Very pretty!

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The main event was much like Onishi’s matsuri, with even more people and dashi and noise. I counted at least 12 dashi, and there might have been more!

The only picture I have of keisuke, with a raccoon mask over his face!

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The night ended with us putting the dashi up, then going for great food and drinks!

I can’t wait for next year’s! I had SO much fun!

And two videos:

Kids parade

and the Fujioka dance