Earlier this week, one of my JTs asked me, "Are you going to the Aoba Matsuri?" Which I responded with a, "Is that what all the flags are around the city?" Needless to say, the Aoba Matsuri is a big event in Sendai. My JT told me that the Aoba Matsuri is to celebrate Date Masamune, I believe. There is also a special dance that is performed. The Aoba Matsuri webpage says
Sendai Suzume Odori Contest(Yoi)
It is said that stonecutters danced Suzume Odori (a dance with gestures of sparrows ) at a celebration for building Aoba-jo Castle in the days of Date Masamune, and that it was the beginning of Suzume Odori. Three kinds of the dance are performed in this festival: Kosuzume Odori(a dance by children,) Butai Odori(a dance on the stage) and Nagashi Odori(a dancing parade through the streets ). The contest is going to be the finale with Jozenji Dori Onagashi ( Suzume Odori Dance through Jozenji street )".
So I set out this morning to enjoy the giant parade of 11 floats and the hundreds of Suzume dance groups that were in the parade. I got some flavored ice and went to get a good spot along Jozenji for the parade. I was lucky that the streets weren't too packed with people trying to see the parade and I quickly found a spot to wait for the start of the parade. After 30 minutes 3 groups of men came out with what looked like axes and a giant ladder. They ended up putting the ladders straight in the air using the axes and did a little acrobatic show. 2 or 1 men would go up the ladder and then balanced in different positions and one group of 2
actually held each other while up on the ladder. It was amazing and very entertaining. The older women next to me kept saying how amazing it was. This lady was really sweet. She was trying very hard to talk to me and she also ended up getting a bit motherly with me. She gave me an old scarf to keep my legs from burning and even said that I should have brought a hat because we were sitting under the hot sun.
The parade got into full swing soon after the opening part. Jozenji is a split road and the floats and performers started on the other side of the street from me. So I got to watch the floats coming, get a small show from the performers, and then move on down Jozenji before they turned and came back toward where I was sitting. I ended up sitting in the sun in my coveted sitting spot for over 2 hours. Needless to say, I am rather crispy this evening. I moved to a different spot when my spot was just getting to hot and I'm glad I did. I ended up getting a much better spot where I
could see all the floats and dancers up close. The dancers were amazing. They have fans that have 2 bright contrasting colors on them that they are constantly turning and waving around. There were the beats of taiko and flutes in the air and a lot of "Sore!" yelling. Some performing groups were connected with the 11 big sponsored floats but a lot of them were private dance groups. There was even a princess sitting in one of the floats. I'm not sure if she was a REAL
princess but she was a princess.
After I had sat and watched the parade for about 3 and a half hours I got some food, puta tama yaki, and ramune and sat and watched people walk by before I came back to my place to change and head out to find some Aloe for my skin. Now, I am applying Aloe very frequently and relaxing for the rest of the evening.
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