Tokaido Seki-Juku Festival in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture

Tokaido Seki-Juku Festival in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture

Step into Seki-Juku and back in time and a whole bunch of excitement as you wander up and down this traditional rest stop on the old Tokaido. Experience delicious snacks and food while enjoying the beautiful floats, costumes and buildings. Seki-Juku, a part of the old Tokaido, has a rich history and was traveled by many people as they moved from one part of Japan to another. The Tokaido runs from the Kanto area (near Tokyo) to Southern Mie Prefecture.

Written by Dan Lewis

-Author's Introduction
Originally from the state of Alaska in the USA, Dan Lewis is a long-term resident of Japan. He has lived in Mie, Ishikawa and Gifu Prefecctures, and currently resides in Nagoya, the capitol city of Aichi Prefecture. Dan is an avid fan of technology and nature - two areas that Japan is blessed with! He loves taking "the road less traveled" and discovering new places.

It’s a beautiful day and perfect weather for the 34th annual Tokaido Seki-juku Festival in Kameyama, Mie Prefecture. It was very crowded from the moment I arrived, and a general feeling of excitement. There was a large crowd gathered around the intersection where I entered the festival. A group of men called out to each other as they pulled a giant, wooden float through the streets.

The main road was narrow and lined mostly by traditional houses. As I started down the winding road, the Jizō-in Temple came into view with the mountains appearing behind it.

In front of the temple there was a group of people dancing.  The song they were dancing to was strangely familiar. It was a song by that famous Japanese rocker…. Bon Jovi. Okay, I don’t know why they were dancing to rock ‘n’ roll, but it was fun to see young and old alike making great moves - traditional Japanese dance moves - to western music.

Past the Temple, I could enjoy a pleasant walk with many beautiful buildings on both sides. Even the houses that were very modern had a traditional gate in front.

And though this area was not actively involved in the festival, I could sense that the traditional feeling of the old road continued on.  I thought it would be nice to walk this road regardless of the festival.

I headed back into the main festival area.  There were many opportunities to catch photos of people young and old alike in a variety of kimonos and yukatas.  A young couple posed for me.

These two boys were getting into the spirit!  It was cute to see this boy’s father fixing his bandana so that his hair stuck out the top.  Every time I tried to position my camera to get a nice background, they kept moving because they thought they needed to stay in line with me. Cute!

These girls seemed excited to be receiving so much attention.  But they deserved it! I hear that it’s hard work getting dressed up like this.  And they look fantastic!

I saw some women dressed in beautiful kimonos with a strange fox like mask on their backs.  Apparently, the fox masks represent the fox that supposedly can travel between our world and the world beyond. Humans are unable to do this, but by wearing the mask, humans can become the fox and perform rituals and ceremonies that humans are normally unable to conduct.

Back in the main festival area, I suddenly found myself in the middle of a parade.  One exotically dressed group after the next! I felt as if I were watching history walk by showcasing the beautiful clothing, artwork and traditions throughout the history of this area.

When the parade is in progress, there are many people taking photos so you have to be quick to get your shot in.  I love how serious this woman is!

If you’re lucky, you’ll snap the shot just as someone looks at your camera.  This is one of my favorite photos.

The participants in the parade are willing to pose for pictures and even interact with you if the parade is not moving at the time. This gentleman asked me where I was from and seemed just as eager to learn about me as I was to learn about him.

Two more of my favorite snapshots were of this woman, and of this man.  She was dancing with several others. He was a standard bearer of sorts.  Both were very friendly and cooperated with taking photos.

There was a great aroma coming from the many food stalls, so I bought some “baby” or miniature Castella cakes. They are the perfect finger food to enjoy while walking around.

There are many traditional foods being sold and the prices were reasonable.  Just as I was enjoying a small “mochi” snack, another group of paraders came through, bringing with them a frenzy of photographers and gawkers.

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