Home > Focus on Japan 2008 > Ichou Matsuri

Ichou Matsuri

November 24th, 2008

Sachi and I went to Jingu Gaien Sunday for the Ichou Festival. Literally, “Ichou” is “Ginkgo Tree,” as in “Ginkgo Biloba,” the widely-known herbal supplement. The southern avenue of Jingu Gaien is lined with Ginkgo trees, which are also known as “Maidenhairs,” though they resemble most the hairstyle worn by Alice in the Dilbert comic.


One of the down points is that the Ginkgo nut, as Sachi pointed out to me, smells kinda like dung. The main drag was OK, but some areas nearby were pretty smelly.

We also miscalculated in thinking that we were going to a park, as “Gaien” means “outer garden.” Jingu Gaien, however, is more of a sports complex (built for the 1964 Olympics, in fact); although there were a few small actual parks here and there, it was mostly stadiums and sports fields. Still, the main drag was nice, with the tree lining and all.







There was one field given over to the usual food stalls (a surprising number selling foreign food, not your usual Japanese festival fare), plus an area for crowds to gather, mingle, and enjoy the occasional show.



One we saw was some kind of performance art we could not figure out: a guy dressed in only a loin cloth, head band, and white paint, standing on a box, imploring a small boy to hold his hand as he pointed off into the distance. If the boy let go, the guy slowly turned with a doleful expression as if to beg for the boy to hold his hand–and when the boy did, the guy turned away again to point somewhere. Frankly, it weirded me out–I felt like calling Child Protective Services.


On our way out, we ran into a fun little activity: a bike-riding training session for little kids. We were wondering why there were so many kids bicycling along our path, until we ran into this.



It was mostly kids seriously trying to learn how to ride, riding in on their training wheels and discarding them for the course. As Sachi and I walked past, we heard an erstwhile young boy intone, “One, two, three! as he took off for yet another try. They were so cute.

Then we saw this:


Sachi had to explain to me that it was not a firearm enthusiast’s tour bus, but a tour bus from Gunma Prefecture.

After the festival, we headed over to Shinjuku Gyouen–more on that tomorrow.

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  1. November 25th, 2008 at 04:39 | #1

    Great to have a break from politics and see a post about matsuri 😉

  2. Paul
    November 25th, 2008 at 09:50 | #2

    Did he say “one, two, three!” or did he say “ichi, ni, san!”? :)

  3. Luis
    November 26th, 2008 at 03:39 | #3

    “Ichi, ni, san!” in fact. I just translated.

  4. Paul
    November 26th, 2008 at 07:10 | #4

    LOL I figured. 😉

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