Yes, my wife is very famous. Apparently there are a number of festivals in various places in Japan that are called Yayoi Matsuri. They are named after the third month which in the traditional Chinese calendar would be equivalent to our month of April.
Anyway on April 17, 2012 we hopped on the Utsunomiya to Nikko train. Just after we sat down the train filled up with a large tour group of hakujin (Caucasians) probably from some eastern European country or country close to Russia.
We got there about 10am and headed in the direction of the temples and shrines. There was one brightly coloured float that we spotted and began taking photographs of. We did not realize that there were about 12 such floats and the one named "Friendship" happened to be one of the last floats. A little further on the float encountered a lengthy slope and the call went out for recruits. Well of course one gaikokojin (foreigner) with a knapsack on his back and a camera dangling from his neck has to grab the very thick rope and quite literally work up a sweat pulling the float up this slope. I was given a small bag of chips and later a small drink of Calpis (yogourt like). There were many food stalls along the way and later I am always a little disappointed with myself in that I am tempted to make the rounds of all the stalls trying all the foods. We also noticed that there were a large number of foreigners everywhere.
There were many delays organizing all the floats before the final ascent to the Futarasan Jinja (shrine). All the while the people jammed inside the floats had to continue playing their instruments in quite uncomfortable circumstances. Finally all of the floats charged past the torii (shrine gate) and up the final slope.
It was lunch time so we walked back to town and found a place to have lunch. After lunch we took the train back to Utsunomiya and had coffee and cake at Tully's near the station. It had threatened rain and rained a bit as we were leaving the festival, but as we drank our coffee it rained "cats and dogs" and I experienced my first thunder and lightning in Japan.
When it had died down a bit we walked back to the Fukuda's condominium and later we went to a shabu shabu Viking style restaurant. After waiting to get in we were challenged with an incredible amount of food that we would cook in one of two broths heated on an induction heater in the middle of the table. After all that I still found space for an ice cream. I am ready to go back there anytime!
Photographs of the Yayoi Matsuri can be seen on Picasa at Yayoi Matsuri.
The photographs of the Viking (buffet) dinner can be seen at Fukuda-San.