Monday, May 11, 2009

Narita Drum Festival

It's all about teamwork

Hello, it’s Amy here.

This blog post has been on my to-do list for a while now, so please forgive the lateness. On the 12th of April, we (being me and Carl), set off to meet up with a friend of ours called Maja. Maja has been in Japan now for many years, and has been a good friend to all the interns. She is always at the major competitions throughout the year that the intern takes part in. (There is also an Interview that last year’s intern did with Maja in the archives.)

Maja had invited us to a drum festival that was taking place in Narita. It was a lovely sunny day in Japan and the heat was rising. After finally finding each other at Chiba train station, grabbing a quick bite to eat and finally getting the right train we arrived in Narita at about 1 o'clock.

It was fun getting through the crowd!

The first thing that I noticed was a beat in the air, the second thing I noticed was the mass of people blocking all the streets. The police had done a great job of blocking off all the roads so that the drum parade could go through the streets unhindered...

...but the thousands of people who had travelled to Narita had been squashed into the narrow streets that lined the route of the parade. Making moving from place to place very difficult.

{Carl here - Can you tell that Amy's Day job is being a Police Officer back in England? Most people just don't appreciate the hard work of the Police :-)}

We soon found the parade which was a mass of colour, costumes and enthusiasm.

The excitement and fun rubbed off the people taking part in the festival and onto the crowd.

The Japanese ethos seems to be 'if its worth doing give it a 110 percent'. There was not a single look on the drummer’s faces of someone being coerced or being bored.

Deep in concentration...!

They smiled and jumped about. They took a real delight in what they were doing and were very proud of their skills.


The participants aged from around 3 years to 90 plus. (However there was a newborn baby fast asleep in one if the drumming floats.)

We made our way carefully to the Naritasan Shishoji Temple.

By this point the crowds had become vast, and due to the fact that I am vertically challenged and unable to see past the crowds we decided that we would look around the temple and the gardens while the masses were still watching the parade.

Maja and Amy... Paparazzi!

The gardens were a peaceful retreat compared to the bustle of the streets. It was a mini wilderness, with streams and waterfalls.

The cherry blossoms were still in season too, making the beautiful garden/temple well worth a visit with or without the festival.

By the time we had finished touring the garden the festival was over and the crowds had dispersed. We walked up the street back towards the train station, it was then that I noticed the streets were traditional Japanese buildings. (They were easy to miss with thousands of people in the streets).

This was Maja' delicious looking dessert.

We then ate in one of the many restaurants, the cakes could have found themselves in an art museum! I was then time to say good bye and return to Tokyo.

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