When Chad and Bill were visiting, we were fortuitously graced with an early festival (the season is usually more in July and August) held at the Yushima Tenjin. In the streets near the temple, many portable shrines, or mikoshi, were being carried by teams of people wearing the traditional outfit, which is this cotton wrap shirt, with pants apparently optional. They weave around the neighborhood, yelling and kind of doing "the pony", so that the heavy mikoshi bounces around on their shoulders. It must be incredibly painful and from what we could tell must be some kind of endurance test. Folks follow along encouraging the holders, and subbing in when it becomes unbearable.
Eventually everyone makes their way to the shrine where there are the typical food stalls that we have come to love. This is where our portion of the endurance test comes in, as we take turns sampling (in no particular order): a gyro; pork on a stick; beef on a stick; a potato chip on a stick (sensing a theme); a lychee fruit thing in gelatin on, you guessed it, a stick; an amaretto cookie thing made in a small pan in front of us; takoyaki (octopus dough balls); baby donut balls (I forget what they are called) and yakisoba noodles.
While all that eating was going on, we watched the last of the parade trickle in. Here is a guy balancing and dancing with that long stick. Impressive, sure, but my favorite part about this crew, was that the rear of their parade was being brought up by three strollers with sleeping babies.
This crew pulled their drum cart and dead trees (??) through the row of food stalls.
The shrine also provided some live music and a puppet show. Here, Chad and Bill (ubiquitous stick in hand) look on.There are also games. Here a family of mikoshi holders in their short shorts observe a shooting gallery.