old town takayama
we headed out around 9 AM and started the morning walking around the quaint old town, which was just starting to wake up.
we found ourselves at the open-air market (fruits and vegetables for sale, including large/juicy/sweet local apples and pears) in front of Takayama Jinya, a centuries-old government building.
heading back to the center of the festivities, we happened upon the Gojinko Procession, a parade of sorts where the shrine of the Hachiman-sama deity is brought through town along with musicians and people carrying banners.
gathering of the yatai
up Omotesando Street on the way to the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine, ten of the yatai, or floats, are out for display. while they’re lovely at night lit up by lanterns (last night), it’s only during the daytime that you can see how intricately designed they are.
the karakuri marionette performance
one of the floats is actually a marionette stage! nine performers control three puppets via dozens of (invisible) strings and rods. the “plot” of the 20-minute performance is that two kids play with Priest Hotei, flipping like acrobats down a set of swings, one ending up on the priest’s shoulders, one on a platform(?) he’s carrying. his fan opens up with a spray of confetti and a banner appears saying “Flaunt not your high virtues and knowledge; share with the masses.”
sidebar: being an audience member the performance takes place in front of the Shakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. two large tarps are set up for audience members to sit on, and they start filling up an hour before each performance (two a day). make sure you take off your shoes before stepping on the tarp. you can take your shoes on the tarp with you, but when you place them down, be sure to put them with the soles facing each other so the soles aren’t touching the ground. you must remain seated if you are on the tarps; there is standing room outside of the tarp area, although police will block off access once things get busy. again, get there early if you want a seat (up to an hour early), or even a place to stand (up to 30 minutes early).
here’s a video of part of the performance: