A water purification festival on a truly epic scale
With 30,000 taking part and half a million watching, the Fukagawa Hachiman Matsuri is one of Tokyo’s biggest summer festivals. Each year, over 50 teams parade the streets of Koto-ku carrying huge mikoshi (portable shrines) while onlookers throw water over them – both to purify the shrines, but also to cool the participants who are hoisting thousands of kilograms on their shoulders. Even the local fire department gets involved, spraying crowds with full-pressure firehoses. As a final show of strength, teams toss the 2,500 kilogram mikoshi into the air as a show of energy and vitality. Watching the crowds edge along the street, I wasn’t prepared for so many people, and simply stood in awe of the spectacle before me.