Japan With Kids - Kishibojin: Oeshiki Matsuri (Zoshigaya, Tokyo)
Toshima City in Tokyo is where the annual Oeshiki Matsuri at Zoshigaya/Kishibojin takes place. It is a three night affair, on October 16, 17 and 18, every year.
It is a wonderful festival with the parades taking place at night, starting at 19:00 or 19:30 depending on the day, and finishing about 22:00. Night is necessary because the highlight is the procession of giant lanterns. The route makes a circle including part of Meiji-dori, and Meijiro-dori before coming back to the temple grounds, finally squeezing their way through the throngs of people and the many, many stalls (yatai) selling okonomiyaki, doner kabobs, grilled chicken, baked potatos, yakisoba, grilled beef cubes, seafood, corn-on-the-cob, candy and more. There is another section closer to the temple where the games are. There is even a show with the snake-eating woman (cost 500yen).
Within the lantern wielding groups (a group is called a Kou) you
will see all ages, from tiny tikes riding on their parent's shoulders to
the elderly. The atmosphere is infectuous. The young bachelors and teenagers
put on a great show, playing Matoi, dancing with a smaller white
paper immitation lantern with long streamers, and competing to see who can twist,
turn, dip and swing with the most enthusiasm.
To get there you can walk from Ikeubukuro station, which is better known to foreign visitors. However, the best approach is from the Kishibojin tram stop. The tram runs from Waseda, crosses the Yamanote line at Otsuka station and crosses the JR again at Oji station. It also crosses the Yurakucho subway line at HigashiIkebukuro station, and the Mita subway line at NishiSugamo station.
Here is a map, with the parade routes. It is not precisely to scale, but it is accurate.
Kishimojin Temple Official Web Site - includes events page, map, etc. (Japanese only)
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