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My Private Tokyo – Ryuko-ji Hounan-e Festival – 龍口寺法難会

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I spent part of the afternoon enjoying a quiet sunset along the Shonan coast. The day, although not particularly eventful was quite relaxing and enjoyable, as it always is when you can enjoy the calm sea breeze and setting sun over Mt. Fuji. I had planned to return on foot to Enoshima as I always do but opted for taking the Enoden train back to Fujisawa. By chance it passed through a section of town I was previously not familiar with and I caught a few food stalls commonly seen in japanese festivals off in the distance.  I hopped off at the next stop and found my way back towards the food stalls, excited to find a random festival, something I haven’t had much luck with finding over the summer due to a conflicting work schedule.

I wandered the path up to the temple which was filled with people celebrating, thought at the time I didn’t even know what. As it so happens the main celebration was just kicking off and a long procession of people were heading towards the entrance of the temple, taiko drums and chimes going off in all directions along with various floats being trotted out towards the top of the stairs leading up to the temple itself.

I have never seen anything quite like this and I honestly don’t have the words to describe the atmosphere in there aside from it feeling like something straight out of a movie. The amount of spirit, joy and life in the air was completely inescapable. The events involved a group of performers making their way towards the entrance of the temple and performing a dance along with an ornamental staff and lots of music from supporting members using various drums. It was really something out of this world and a sight to behold. The combination of energy and culture made for a magical evening that had me smiling and grinning from ear to ear. Not only was the dancing incredibly interesting and unique but the endless smiles and happiness were quite infectious.

During the event I had no idea of the significance or reason for the celebration but it will go down as one of the most memorable moments I’ve ever experienced in Japan. This was truly a unique experience and a looking glass into the unique culture and history there is to experience.

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