Saturday, April 5, 2008
Takeda Shingen Festival
The Takeda Shingen Festival is held the first weekend of April and is one of the biggest festivals in Yamanashi. Months before the festival people apply to participate in it and on the day of the festival, dress up as various samurai and participate in a huge parade. I really wanted to participate in this, but managed to miss the sign ups. However, watching wasn't as boring as I thought it would be. I went with Tiffany and we had a blast wandering around and checking things out. Next year though, I'll be ready for when the sign ups roll around!

When we got to Kofu, we went to check out Kofu castle, which was were all the performances were supposed to happen. Walking the castle grounds is a lot more interesting when there are various samurai groups camping out.

When we finally made our way to the stage, we ended up walking through a bunch of dressed up people and ran into another ALT, Josh who was participateing in the festival. He was carrying this giant flag and asked if I would hold if for he while he took a few pictures, so I sort of got to participate in the festival for a bit! We chilled with him while things while the main event was happening on stage. It was pretty much an actor playing Takeda Shingen and all his generals on stage talking and serving Takeda some tea. Staying with Josh, we were actually really close to the action.

After the performance, all the samurai armies started moving to where the big parade would start and as me and Tiffany were heading out to get a good spot to see the parade, we were stopped by a group of samurai who asked if we wanted to take some pictures. The even gave us their swords! Please note our awesome paper samurai hats!

After that, we found a somewhat decent spot to watch the festival parade from. It was really cool and exciting for about the first hour, but the second started getting a bit draggy. Each samurai group, lead by one of Takeda's 24 retainers, did a little skit type thing so the parade too forever. We toughed it out though and watched till the very end when Takeda himself finally made his way down the street.

By the time the parade was over, it was already dark and pretty late so me a Tiffany grabbed some Starbucks and then headed home. All in all, a good festival, just a bit too long for my liking. It's almost made me reconsider if I want to be in it or not. I got tired just watching! Who knows how tired I might have been if I actually had to march around in samurai amour for the whole parade!

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