Chichibu/Nagatoro – Night festival – 2nd December

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My last day trip of 2009 and it is without a doubt the highlight of my stay in Japan so far.  Mountains,  forests, huge gorges, cliffs and everywhere is rather isolated.  It’s located 2 hours north west of Tokyo.  People often complain about long commutes to places outside Tokyo but for me, a person who has lived in Dublin for many years and put up with one of the worst transport systems known to man (Dublin bus, Bus Eireann), a two hour journey is not so bad. Especially when you get to see some breath taking views of huge valleys and rivers.

Before the festival, I spent my day getting lost  in the southern part of Chichibu called Mitsumine where I planned on seeing a famous shrine and lake but transport was pretty much nonexistent there so I got to see neither in the end. When I exited the station at Mitsumine (incredibly old and nothing was electronic) it really did feel like the middle of no where.  A bit creepy as I was alone at this stage and it was completely silent with little housing.  I did not stay long as there was two hicks in dungarees just staring at me at one stage and I just did not like the dodgy vibes they were throwing my way.  Since I still had time to kill before the main festival I decided to head north of Chichibu to Nagataro where I heard there were some nice rivers and gorges.  I hopped off (the most expensive train I have ever taken) at Kami-Nagatoro where I spotted a big bridge and the edge of a river.  I had to work my way down a steep weedy hill past some bamboo and some burnt out camp fires to get to the river side which was mainly pebbles and huge boulders.  This area is famous for it’s strange rock formations.  Pretty special I have to say.. It was nice to sit on huge boulders and just watched the water gushing by and the sun blasting off the red leaves at the river sides.  You don’t get to see this in Tokyo so this was a real treat for me.

I met a co-worker for the main event.  I saw a traditional Japanese play for the first time.  Pretty strange but quite intriguing.  It was called “Big Snake Attack” (direct English translation).  It was great to finally see one but I don’t think I will be rushing to another any time soon.  The main attraction at the festival was the dragging of four floats (weighing about 20 tonnes and they had musicians playing inside them) covered in lanterns through the narrow streets of Chichibu.  A handful of kids were allowed to sit into the floats as they were dragged along.  Pretty exciting stuff and well… very Japanese.  I was surprisingly the only foreigner there from what I could see and many locals obviously stared at my strange white skin.  It seems that tourists don’t go here and the bulk of the crowd is locals.  A great place and I highly recommend a trip here if you have not been.. Oh bring me too as I want to go back.

More photos in here.

The float almost falls on top of me.. Pretty exciting eh!

Train to Chichibu

Big Snake Attack play

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~ by redegg on December 13, 2009.

One Response to “Chichibu/Nagatoro – Night festival – 2nd December”

  1. Looks like the snake/dragon suit guy is coming for you in that pic.

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