Monday, October 12, 2015

Kanuma Fall Festival 2015 - hair report

I made plans to go to my favorite matsuri (traditional Japanese festival) on Sunday. Of course that meant that on Sunday the weather was sucky and it rained. On Saturday it was nice. Today (Monday) it was sunny and warm. But Sunday? Rainy and windy and cold. Figures.

There was one good thing though. Thanks to the nasty weather, there were plenty of parking spaces available. Unheard of under normal conditions.

And that's how we found ourselves walking from Higashi Junior High School in Kanuma across the river to where the action was.
The river banks were still littered with the remnants of the last flood. Kanuma got it bad and it showed.

Kanuma Buttsuke Aki Matsuri is held on the second weekend in October and lasts 2 days.
Kanuma is the name of the city. Buttsuke is what they do during this festival, which is sort of crash the festival floats into each other. Aki means fall in Japanese. And matsuri is a Japanese festival.

I have written about this event on many occasions in the past, so go and look it up.
This year was same same but different.

What was new and different this year was the fact that as soon as the festival staff noticed me, the immediately ran over and handed me an English-language booklet.

"Be still my heart! Kanuma is really stepping up their game", I thought to myself.

The booklet, in that odd but charming English that is so characteristic to Japanese pamphlets, explained that Kanuma Buttsuke Fall Festival is trying to be recognized as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage (along with other yama-hoko-yatai float festivals in Japan, 32 in all). However, on the UNESCO site it is listed as 'Kanuma Imamiya Shrine Festival'. Technically correct, because the shrine is at the center of the festivities.

 Because car jacks are for amateurs

So the UNESCO bid explains the English and the uber-helpfulness and willingness to assist the foreign visitors. It felt almost strange at times, as if all the festival participants were told to be super nice and super "genki" when they see a foreigner. And considering that Kanumans are naturally very friendly and helpful, last Sunday it seemed as if they went slightly overboard with the "omotenashi" spirit. Or maybe it was just the alcohol.

Yes, there were 27 carved yatai (14 of them the real deal from the Edo era). Yes, there were traditional orchestras. Yes, there were festival stands and festival foods.

But that's standard at other float festivals, too.

Where Kanuma outshines all the competitors is the hair.

And with that, let's take a look at what's really important.
The Hair!

The ancients must be twisting in their graves, but two events are better than one, right? Happy Aki Matsuri Halloween, you folks!

And you're never too old for festival hair. This photo also shows you the dangers of poorly matched foundation.

More fancy braiding. Is it just me, or does it look painful to you, too?

Pretty tame compared to the girls in the previous photo. This is a standard issue Tochigi-style festival hair.

Now, this is Kanuma hair at its finest.

Feathers have made a comeback this season. And color coordinated fans.

And now you know why there were hairspray shortages in Tochigi last week.

On behalf of all Kanumans, please accept my sincerest apologies. We do care about the ozone layer. But we care about our festival (hair) more. Pass the hairspray, please.

Flowers are always a good accessory. But what to do if you're not a flower person?
Then you can stick a wooden something into your hair and call it a day:

But at least one person just couldn't be arsed:

So there you have it.
Kanuma Buttsuke Aki Matsuri deserves the UNESCO heritage status for the hair alone.