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Sunday’s Tohoku Rokkon Festival Parade was the climax of the Tokyo Shintora Matsuri, which was held this weekend in Toranomon. Close to 300 performers, a handful of cute mascots and one giant float offered up a lively sampler of Tohoku’s biggest festivals.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was among the VIPs who helped kick off the festivities on Sunday. In her opening ceremony speech, Koike said that, like Tohoku, Japan must nurture its traditions and showcase its cultural assets to the world.
Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike was among the VIPs who helped kick off the festivities on Sunday. In her opening ceremony speech, Koike said that, like Tohoku, Japan must nurture its traditions and showcase its cultural assets to the world. | MARK THOMPSON
Among the visiting dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Tohoku Rokkon Festival Parade were sundry mascots from Japan
Among the visiting dignitaries at the opening ceremony of the Tohoku Rokkon Festival Parade were sundry mascots from Japan’s northern region. | MARK THOMPSON
Left: A top-heavy tower of lanterns on bamboo poles is held aloft by performers of the Akita Kanto Matsuri. Along the parade route, men show their prowess by balancing the precarious load in a variety of ways. Right: The flexibility and strength of bamboo is exhibited as a performer struggles to upright a bending pole. Sometimes, though, gravity wins, and the pole breaks with a loud SNAP.
Left: A top-heavy tower of lanterns on bamboo poles is held aloft by performers of the Akita Kanto Matsuri. Along the parade route, men show their prowess by balancing the precarious load in a variety of ways. Right: The flexibility and strength of bamboo is exhibited as a performer struggles to upright a bending pole. Sometimes, though, gravity wins, and the pole breaks with a loud SNAP. | MARK THOMPSON
Women perform a sample of the the Sansa Odori. The actual festival, however, features 10,000 dancers and drummers, which puts it in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest taiko festival in the world.
Women perform a sample of the the Sansa Odori. The actual festival, however, features 10,000 dancers and drummers, which puts it in the Guinness Book of World Records for being the largest taiko festival in the world. | MARK THOMPSON
The Morioka Sansa Odori is said to have originated from a celebration dance for the god Mitsuishi, who, according to legend, saved the Iwate area from an evil demon.
The Morioka Sansa Odori is said to have originated from a celebration dance for the god Mitsuishi, who, according to legend, saved the Iwate area from an evil demon. | MARK THOMPSON
A lead performer of Yamagata Hanagasa guides the mascot Hangata Beni-chan, who wears a costume touting the prefecture
A lead performer of Yamagata Hanagasa guides the mascot Hangata Beni-chan, who wears a costume touting the prefecture’s famous cherries. | MARK THOMPSON
Performers of the Yamagata Hanagasa share a moment.
Performers of the Yamagata Hanagasa share a moment. | MARK THOMPSON
Dancers take to the air during a performance of Sendai Suzume Odori.
Dancers take to the air during a performance of Sendai Suzume Odori. | MARK THOMPSON
Dancers bearing fans perform the Sendai Suzume Odori. The lively folk dance traces its origins back to the sparrow-like movements of stonemasons celebrating completion of the Aoba Castle in 1637.
Dancers bearing fans perform the Sendai Suzume Odori. The lively folk dance traces its origins back to the sparrow-like movements of stonemasons celebrating completion of the Aoba Castle in 1637. | MARK THOMPSON
Men take a break before pushing a large Aomori Nebuta float down Shintora Street. While there are other nebuta festivals in Japan, Aomori
Men take a break before pushing a large Aomori Nebuta float down Shintora Street. While there are other nebuta festivals in Japan, Aomori’s large festival, held annually in August, is the biggest. | MARK THOMPSON
For the real Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, visitors can rent costumes and join the fun.
For the real Aomori Nebuta Matsuri, visitors can rent costumes and join the fun. | MARK THOMPSON

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