Ogaki City is a small town in Gifu prefecture yet they have festivals rather frequently. Last Sunday (Oct. 12th) was the Jumangoku festival celebrating the poet Matsuo Basho who stayed in Ogaki during his travels around the country and the former lord of Ogaki, Toda Ujisada. The word Jumangoku is a reference to the salary paid to the lord; koku (石) being a bale of rice used as currency at the time.
Festivals in Japan are generally a blast and bring together many of the elements that make me love living in Japan. Lots of people in traditional clothes, a wide variety of street food, cute kids wearing headbands and public consumption of alcohol (delightfully legal here).
A few foreigners carried the local shrines (omikoshi or 神輿) that represented the various companies and schools in Ogaki. I did not participate in lugging those huge things up and down the street, but rather stood on the sidewalk with a cold beer and laughed at my friends. Perfect Sunday afternoon!
Monday we had a typhoon, which is also very Japanese. Great three-day weekend!
PS-Saw this weird dude in a Pikachu costume walking around all day. Takes all kinds!