Ken Chin-Purcell

May 18, 2023

Japan day 3: Kanda Matsuri

We went for lunch in Asakusa but it took a while to find a restaurant for the five of us. It’s sometimes not easy to get a sit down meal in Tokyo, the majority of eateries are stand up counters or a row of single stools. Ryoko says people in Tokyo are always go-go-go. She was saying there used to be soba stands on the train platform, where you could stand and slurp some noodles before your train arrived. But now the trains run every few minutes and there’s no time to slurp.

We travelled over to Kanda and walked to the Kanda Myojin shrine. The Kanda festival (matsuri) is this week, and we were there to see Wakayma Shachu, the group that Michele’s teacher’s teacher Suzuki Sensei plays in. When we got there a procession was assembling:


Some of the paraders were playing these vertical drone instruments, like a small organ, and like a church organ it set the mood.


After the parade entered the temple it was time for Wakayama Shachu to perform. Suzuki Sensei did the Mai (dance) and was a story of a hunter-god:


I’m glad I got to see Sensei and how he glides around the stage. The roots of these mai-s is in Noh theater, and the effect is supposed to be a bit other-worldly. In particular there’s a certain way they walk, on their toes, knees bent, gliding. When Chris and Michele were learning the ShiShi mai it seemed kind of weird, why not just walk or strut? But you get the strong sense with Sensei that you aren’t watching a human, you’re seeing something else.

We had an hour until the next event, so we had a glass of iced tea and a raisin sandwich at a cute tea room. Raisin sandwiches are a thing here - think graham crackers with a little cream frosting and raisins in the middle.

Later on the hunter story continued on a side stage, but this episode had a lot of humor. I think the temple performance was all buttoned down serious for big wigs and the side stage was more entertainment for the rabble. Anyway, it was an escapade with two goofy demons.


After Sensei had vanquished the demons we met up with Michiko and Paul. Michiko was one of Michele’s taiko teachers in Minnesota.


We all went out to Hitachino Brewery and enjoyed this harmonic convergence in Tokyo.