Le triple meurtre d’un petit-fils à Kôbe

3 personnes ont été retrouvées mortes, et 2 autres blessées, ce dimanche 16 juillet. Une des victimes a appelé la police depuis une maison à Kôbe avant de mourir de ses blessures, selon la police. La maison où les victimes ont été retrouvées est située à environ 600 mètres au Sud de la gare d’Okaba sur la […]

Le triple meurtre d’un petit-fils à Kôbe

3 personnes ont été retrouvées mortes, et 2 autres blessées, ce dimanche 16 juillet. Une des victimes a appelé la police depuis une maison à Kôbe avant de mourir de ses blessures, selon la police. La maison où les victimes ont été retrouvées est située à environ 600 mètres au Sud de la gare d’Okaba sur la […]

La puanteur de Tokyo : un problème pour les Jeux Olympiques

Dans le quartier Kichijoji à Musashino, Tokyo, les entrepreneurs locaux ainsi que les responsables municipaux ont formé des patrouilles qui tentent de traquer les constructions qui dégagent de mauvaises odeurs. En effet ces dernières sont souvent provoquées par du sulfure d’hydrogène généré dans des fosses de drainage installées en dessous des bâtiments. Le gouvernement métropolitain […]

35th Asakusa Samba Carnival Contest: Exuberance on the Streets of Tokyo

浅草サンバカーニバル

Decorated float the the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival Contest, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016.
Partytime! A float at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016

Easygoing, fun-loving, downtown Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most colorful areas even on an ordinary day – but positively dazzles at the end of August each year with the huge, Brazilian-inspired Asakusa Samba Carnival. This event recreating Rio in Tokyo is a celebration of dance, performance and music that has become part of Asakusa’s heart and soul over the past three decades, and draws crowds of up to half a million – rivaling that other huge annual Asakusa event, the Sanja Matsuri.

Porta bandeira at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan, 2016.
Porta bandeira at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, 2016

The 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival happened again today at 1pm – the contest beginning at 1.30pm – and ended five spectacular, unbridled, kaleidoscopic hours later at 6pm. The approaching typhoon meant gray skies and scattered rain, but that didn’t deter anyone. The streets were a blaze of color and dancing, and were packed with exuberant spectators who, although on the sidelines, radiated just as much excitement as the participants.

35th Asakusa Samba Carnival in Asakusa, Tokyo with Skytree behind.
Tokyo Skytree forms backdrop to 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival

17 samba teams from around Japan took part today: veterans such as G.R.E.S. Uniao dos Amadores and G.R.E.S. Barbaros – both associated with the Carnival since its very beginning in 1981 – to relative newcomers like G.R.E.S. Sol Nascente, for whom this was their sixth carnival.

Asakusa Samba Carnival parade in front of Sensoji Temple's Kaminarimon Gate, Tokyo, 2016.
Asakusa Samba Carnival parade in front of Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon Gate

The Carnival being a contest ensures that the teams are giving it their all, and the bad weather didn’t stand a chance against the mass enthusiasm. Each team whirled, gyrated, twisted and leaped to the samba sounds pumped out from each float. The costumes, floats, dancing and performing skills had to be seen to be believed: imaginative, intricate, inimitable.

A train-themed float at the Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan, 2016.
Train-themed float at the Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo

Japan has a large Brazilian population, and the participating teams include numerous Brazilian members; however, the vast majority of participants are Japanese, many of whom have spent time in Brazil absorbing and perfecting their carnival skills.

Feathered passistas dance at 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.
Feathered passistas dance at 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.

The contest was divided into two leagues. The S1 League is of teams of between 150 and 300 people and including the four essential elements of a carnival team: the comissao de frente (the lead group) the porta bandeira (flag bearer), the mestre sala (man dancing with the porta bandeira at the head of the group), and baianas (the women dancing in big hooped dresses). The S1 League winners this year were the formidable G.R.E.S. Barbaros (i.e. “Barbarians” – not named so for nothing!)

Jugglers and baianas at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.
Baiana dancers and jugglers, 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

The S2 League is of teams of 30 to 150 members and doesn’t require the full complement of the above four carnival elements. The ICU Lambs were the S2 League winners this year.

Barbaros team's bandeiras at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.
Banners of the winning S1 League Barbaros team, 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, 2016

The carnival climaxes during the last hour, 5 to 6pm, when the competition is at its hottest and the dancers and performers are at one with each other, the atmosphere, and the crowds – giving it everything they’ve got, absorbing and exuding carnival energy.

Starting just outside the Ekimise shopping building housing the Tobu Skytree Line’s Asakusa Station, the parade goes down to and right into Kaminarimon Avenue, past the huge red Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji Temple, and finishes a few hundred meters further on at Sushiya-dori.

People from all over the world converge on the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival and Competition, 2016.
The whole world enjoys the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival and Contest 2016 in Tokyo

Enjoy these pictures of the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival held on August 27, 2016, in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Jugglers juggle at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival and Contest, Tokyo, Japan.
Jugglers at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Parade, Tokyo, Japan.
Palm tree costumes at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival and Contest, Tokyo, Japan.
Palm trees at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival and Contest, Tokyo.
Drummers in parade at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.
Drumming parade at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, 2016
Boat themed float of G.R.E.S. Barbaros at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan 2016.
Boat-themed float of G.R.E.S. Barbaros at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo.

Want the CD of the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival songs? Inquire with GoodsFromJapan.

Read about the 2016 Brazil Festival in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo.

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35th Asakusa Samba Carnival Contest: Exuberance on the Streets of Tokyo

浅草サンバカーニバル

Decorated float the the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival Contest, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016.
Partytime! A float at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016

Easygoing, fun-loving, downtown Asakusa is one of Tokyo’s most colorful areas even on an ordinary day – but positively dazzles at the end of August each year with the huge, Brazilian-inspired Asakusa Samba Carnival. This event recreating Rio in Tokyo is a celebration of dance, performance and music that has become part of Asakusa’s heart and soul over the past three decades, and draws crowds of up to half a million – rivaling that other huge annual Asakusa event, the Sanja Matsuri.

Porta bandeira at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan, 2016.
Porta bandeira at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, 2016

The 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival happened again today at 1pm – the contest beginning at 1.30pm – and ended five spectacular, unbridled, kaleidoscopic hours later at 6pm. The approaching typhoon meant gray skies and scattered rain, but that didn’t deter anyone. The streets were a blaze of color and dancing, and were packed with exuberant spectators who, although on the sidelines, radiated just as much excitement as the participants.

35th Asakusa Samba Carnival in Asakusa, Tokyo with Skytree behind.
Tokyo Skytree forms backdrop to 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival

17 samba teams from around Japan took part today: veterans such as G.R.E.S. Uniao dos Amadores and G.R.E.S. Barbaros – both associated with the Carnival since its very beginning in 1981 – to relative newcomers like G.R.E.S. Sol Nascente, for whom this was their sixth carnival.

Asakusa Samba Carnival parade in front of Sensoji Temple's Kaminarimon Gate, Tokyo, 2016.
Asakusa Samba Carnival parade in front of Sensoji Temple’s Kaminarimon Gate

The Carnival being a contest ensures that the teams are giving it their all, and the bad weather didn’t stand a chance against the mass enthusiasm. Each team whirled, gyrated, twisted and leaped to the samba sounds pumped out from each float. The costumes, floats, dancing and performing skills had to be seen to be believed: imaginative, intricate, inimitable.

A train-themed float at the Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan, 2016.
Train-themed float at the Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo

Japan has a large Brazilian population, and the participating teams include numerous Brazilian members; however, the vast majority of participants are Japanese, many of whom have spent time in Brazil absorbing and perfecting their carnival skills.

Feathered passistas dance at 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.
Feathered passistas dance at 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.

The contest was divided into two leagues. The S1 League is of teams of between 150 and 300 people and including the four essential elements of a carnival team: the comissao de frente (the lead group) the porta bandeira (flag bearer), the mestre sala (man dancing with the porta bandeira at the head of the group), and baianas (the women dancing in big hooped dresses). The S1 League winners this year were the formidable G.R.E.S. Barbaros (i.e. “Barbarians” – not named so for nothing!)

Jugglers and baianas at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.
Baiana dancers and jugglers, 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.

The S2 League is of teams of 30 to 150 members and doesn’t require the full complement of the above four carnival elements. The ICU Lambs were the S2 League winners this year.

Barbaros team's bandeiras at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival, Tokyo, Japan.
Banners of the winning S1 League Barbaros team, 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, 2016

The carnival climaxes during the last hour, 5 to 6pm, when the competition is at its hottest and the dancers and performers are at one with each other, the atmosphere, and the crowds – giving it everything they’ve got, absorbing and exuding carnival energy.

Starting just outside the Ekimise shopping building housing the Tobu Skytree Line’s Asakusa Station, the parade goes down to and right into Kaminarimon Avenue, past the huge red Kaminarimon Gate of Sensoji Temple, and finishes a few hundred meters further on at Sushiya-dori.

People from all over the world converge on the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival and Competition, 2016.
The whole world enjoys the 35th Asakusa Samba Festival and Contest 2016 in Tokyo

Enjoy these pictures of the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival held on August 27, 2016, in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Jugglers juggle at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Festival and Contest, Tokyo, Japan.
Jugglers at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Parade, Tokyo, Japan.
Palm tree costumes at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival and Contest, Tokyo, Japan.
Palm trees at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival and Contest, Tokyo.
Drummers in parade at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan.
Drumming parade at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, 2016
Boat themed float of G.R.E.S. Barbaros at the 2016 Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo, Japan 2016.
Boat-themed float of G.R.E.S. Barbaros at the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival, Tokyo.

Want the CD of the 35th Asakusa Samba Carnival songs? Inquire with GoodsFromJapan.

Read about the 2016 Brazil Festival in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo.

© JapanVisitor.com

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Asakusa’s "Toro Nagashi" Floating Lantern Festival

 浅草とうろう流し 

Azumabashi Bridge over the Sumida River was crowded this evening on its upstream side. From about 6.45pm, the crowds on the bridge and lining both sides of the river were treated to the sight of hundreds of candle-lit lanterns being floated from the Asakusa side.

The Toro Nagashi Lantern Floating Festival on the Sumida River, Asakusa, Tokyo.
Toro Nagashi Lantern Floating Festival on the Sumida River, Asakusa

 “Toro Nagashi” means “putting lanterns afloat” and is the feature of this midsummer festival that takes place here every year.

This supposedly ancient festival was revived in 1946 and ran annually until 1965, when flood prevention facilities built along the river made holding the festival impossible. However, with the pedestrianization of the river in the 21st century, the Toro Nagashi festival was revived yet again in 2005, and has been part of the Asakusa district’s summer festivities every year since then.

Daylight on the Sumida River, just before the lanterns are set afloat at the Toro Nagashi Festival.
Azumabashi Bridge (red), on the Sumida River near Asakusa, Tokyo.

Every year, about three thousand lanterns are floated down the river. These delicate paper lanterns lit inside by a candle are released near the time of the full moon, and are traditionally seen as ensuring the welfare of those that live along and around the river.

Members of the public are invited to purchase a lantern for 1,500 yen, sent by mail, which they can then decorate with and float down the river on the day. Mail order applications end on July 31, and applications by those who can actually pick up a lantern directly in Asakusa from the Aasakusa Kankou Renmei (Asakusa Tourism Association) end just a couple of days before the event.

Toro Nagashi Matsuri lanterns floating down the Sumida River towards Komagata Bridge.
Lit Toro Nagashi Festival lanterns float downstream towards Komagatabashi Bridge on the Sumida River

We watched the festival from in front of the Asahi Beer Hall. This evening’s event happened on a balmy, almost cool, midsummer evening, with the Tokyo Skytree towering in the background, and the breeze making the lights of Asakusa shimmer in the dark waters, amid which the tiny lanterns wended their way downstream – a reminder that life still offers simple, and pretty, pleasures.

Read about the huge Sanja Matsuri Festival that took place here in Asakusa just last month.

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Sanja Matsuri 2016 Asakusa Tokyo

三社祭2016年

Today was the second day of the massive, annual, 3-day Sanja Matsuri festival in Asakusa, Tokyo.

Bearing a golden mikoshi shrine, Sanja Matsuri 2016 in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.
Shrine bearers giving it their all at the Sanja Matsuri 2016

Close-up of shrine bearers at Sanja Matsuri 2016, Tokyo.
Camaraderie at the Sanja Matsuri 2016, Asakusa, Tokyo. 

The Sanja Matsuri (literally “three shrine festival”) is associated with Sensoji Temple, or, more accurately, with the Shinto shrine that forms part of the Sensoji Temple. The shrine venerates the founders of what is said to be Tokyo’s oldest temple (over 1,200 years), and the Sanja Matsuri likewise celebrates them.

Children's fife and drum float, Sanja Matsuri, 2016, Asakusa, Tokyo.
Children’s fife and drum float, Sanja Matsuri, 2016, with Tokyo Skytree in background.

Today being the second day, over 100 mikoshi portable shrines were paraded down the main street of Asakusa, each representing one of the dozens of districts that make up the Asakusa area. The parade down the streets is actually the last – if most publicly visible – stage of the ceremony. To begin with, they are borne down the long Nakamise-dori alleyway flanked by stalls that leads up to Sensoji Temple, then are taken to the adjacent Asakusa Shrine where they are blessed by a Shinto priest. They then return to their respective neighborhoods with every bit as much enthusiasm as they set out.

Some senior members of the Sanja Matsuri procession, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016.
Senior participants at the Sanja Matsuri procession, 2016 – Kaminarimon Gate of temple in background.

Enthusiasm is the Sanja Matsuri’s keyword. The air crackles with it. Drums bang and fifes toot, and the voices of the shrine bearers are raised in rhythmic unison as they shoulder the poles on which the shrine rides, and the buoyant crowd, merging with the edges of the procession buzzes with excitement.

Omikoshi shrine with Kaminarimon Gate of Asakusa Temple in background.
Ornate mikoshi shrine in front of Kaminarimon Gate of Asakusa Temple, Sanja Matsuri 2016.

One very distinctive aspect of the Sanja Matsuri more in evidence on the third day than the second is how the shrines are rocked and jostled by those carrying them. Sunday, the third day, is when the Shrine’s own three mikoshi are paraded, and they are the focus of an extraordinary outpouring of energy and noise that has to be experienced to be appreciated.

Shrine bearers shouldering a shrine at the Sanja Matsuri 2016.
Gambatte! Shrine bearers giving it their all at the Sanja Matsuri 2016.

Yet, in spite of all the boisterousness, the massive crowds gathered to watch are essentially calm, polite and considerate of each other. The great numbers of children present – both participating and watching – attest to the inclusiveness and warm community spirit of the Sanja Festival – in spite of its sometimes fearsome reputation (somewhat sensationally painted so at times simply because of the conspicuous presence of yakuza gangsters at Sanja Matsuris in the past among those taking part).

Children with a neighborhood float at the Sanja Matsuri, Asakusa, Tokyo, 2016.
Children with a festive drum and fife float at the 2016 Sanja Matsuri.

Depending on the weather, I may well go to Asakusa again tomorrow for the climactic third day of the Sanja Matsuri. If so, more coverage on the way!

A view from behind of a fundoshi at the Sanja Matsuri, 2016, Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan.
Fundoshi-clad participants at the Sanja Matsuri 2016

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Cute Tanuki Raccoon Dogs in Asakusa Promise Marital Bliss

浅草狸

A tanuki is a raccoon dog in Japanese, and in Japanese culture the tanuki has become a symbol of chubby good cheer and fortune (a comparatively recent development, as the original image was of a shape-shifting trickster). In other words, the tanuki in Japan has become something very akin to that cat that waves in fortune with its paw, the maneki neko.

I was recently in Asakusa, a very traditional part of east-end Tokyo, and noticed that one small street was lined with little tanuki shrines.

One of them featured this “Couple Tanuki” with the following explanation above it: “This young tanuki couple from Asakusa get on well together and promise couples marital harmony, the ability to make up after arguments, and a life lived together in ongoing contentment and good cheer.”

There were several other tanuki similarly enshrined in various poses and promising various good things, but this stolid couple somberly promising bliss somehow stole my heart!

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Tôkyô : voyage à Asakusa par Hirô Kikai

Hirô Kikai est l’un des plus grands photographes japonais qui a exposé dans de nombreux pays. Photographe exigeant et homme ouvert sur la rencontre avec les autres, il est connu comme étant le témoin de « Shitamachi », l’autre Tôkyô, celui des quartiers populaires de la capitale. Jean-François Sabouret est l’un des sociologues reconnus du…

Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa Tokyo

Asakusa is probably the most popular place in Tokyo for foreign and Japanese tourists alike. Located between the other tourist hotspots of Akihabara and Tokyo Skytree, Asakusa is a great place to visit for its temples, shrines and traditional shopping streets.

Every year in late May the Sanja Matsuri (Three Shrine Festival) is held, and is regarded as one of the top 3 Shinto festivals in Japan. The festival celebrates the 3 founders of Senso-ji , the well-known temple in Asakusa. Participants carry mikoshi (little portable shrines) around Asakusa, while they chant, sing and play instruments.

It’s a really exciting festival and because there are so many mikoshi everywhere, you are guaranteed to see some authentic Japanese celebrations. Hang around and eventually one of the music performance trucks will come around, playing all sorts of old-style Japanese festival and folk music.

The mikoshi make their way around town, eventually passing down Nakamise-dori, the touristy shopping street that runs down from Senso-ji. It gets super crowded here, but the atmosphere is great, with everyone dancing, drinking and chanting. Almost 2 million visitors come to see the festival every year.

There are countless mikoshi teams who come to Asakusa every year to show off their teams power. The entire neighbourhood seems to have joined in as well, with kids playing musical instruments and grammas pushing the performance carts. The Sanja Matsuri is highly recommended for anyone who wants to see a real, fun Japanese festival.

This guest post is from Matthew, a blogger and writer living in Tokyo, Japan. He has lived cheaply in Japan for over 5 years and writes for Cheapo Japan, a travel guide dedicated to budget travel in Japan. You can read more of his work at www.cheapojapan.com