It’s like a midsummer night’s dream.
In mid-July, Yasukuni Shrine in central Tokyo was lit up in orange by 30,000 lanterns lining the approach to the annual Mitama Matsuri festival, creating a nostalgic atmosphere.
The festival’s location, often a point of diplomatic contention with neighboring countries because it honors Class-A World War II war criminals along with the nation’s war dead, is a focal point of prayer for the peaceful repose of the lost souls.
But for many visitors, it’s an attractive tourism spot that offers a glimpse of Japan’s traditional festivals with Awa odori and Bon odori dance performances and parades of men carrying mikoshi portable shrines.
The event’s crescendo happens when visitors, some wearing yukata casual kimono, and the Bon odori performers dance together in the heat of a summer night.
One of the biggest summer festivals in Tokyo, and held since 1947, the four-day event attracts about 300,000 visitors from home and abroad every year. The festival takes place during Tokyo’s traditional Bon period in July.
Tourists can be seen taking selfies amid the orange lanterns and vividly colored streamers that hang down from above. The food and drink stands that once dotted the shrine’s approach have been banned during the event from last year, as many young people, some inebriated, caused a bit of a ruckus.
This section, appearing in the first week of each month, explores in photographs neighborhoods of interest.