The following weekend was the annual Nagoya Festival, which celebrated (in part) the Big Three Shogun who shaped Japan and forged it into an actual nation instead of an island full of fiefdoms. I went out on Saturday, but Sunday was when I chose to participate in the festivities. I wanted to go with someone else, but everyone had already made plans, and the offer I had to join a group was basically rescinded, so I was off on my own.Sakae seemed to be a good place to watch things. They’d closed off a large area around the center of Sakae, and according to the pamphlet I was given by a helpful gentleman, the parade ran a long path through the city; you could conceivably miss it in one spot and catch up with it in another part of Nagoya. Rather than floats, they had processions, each surrounding a large cart with wooden puppets and musicians (seated in the back of the cart). It was hard to get a good spot at first, and became increasingly more difficult as things went on. Still, I managed to get some okay photos… until my camera, which had been reading three (full) bars, suddenly told me it was nearly out of juice. Apparently, the battery shows full until it’s nearly empty. Thus, I had to switch to the much-weaker phone camera (which I was grateful to have, really). There was a break in the procession, during which I ran off and found a convenience store, and when I came back, they’d switched to marching bands and bagpipes (yes, bagpipes). It wasn’t long before the Shogun came by, each portrayed by a lookalike (or what we can guess was a lookalike). As they met in a central intersection of streets, the spear-carrying “soldiers” who’d accompanied them went into mock battles, some using blank-loaded muskets, with small buckets full of firecrackers placed nearby to simulate distant battlefield gunfire. Men died, swords crossed, and the crowd ate it up. I only wish I’d had more battery life and a better vantage point! Also, the weather had finally turned cool some days before, so I’d gone out wearing jeans, but regretted it the entire day; the subways are always a bit warm, and the sunshine was relentless. After the parade, I consulted my pamphlet and swung by Oasis 21 (also in Sakae) and found they’d set up a stage with period-style performers who danced, sang, and had cinematic battles. It was a little corny, but there were a lot of kids in the crowd, so that made sense. There were booths set up all over, including one that gave out paper helmets (which I wore for a while) and one that featured a fantasy-medieval prince and two(!) princesses, promoting some comic or something. I stayed for a bit and then made my way back.
Before bed, I started looking seriously into my plans for the upcoming three-day break. For some reason, we were to get Tuesday through Thursday off, and I didn’t intend to waste it. I’d already contacted my Tokyo friends, half of whom were busy and half of whom were anxious to see me. I consulted with Takashi, who suggested numerous hotels, but I had to get some sleep, so I bookmarked everything for the next day.