For a few weeks every summer in Japan the streets of neighbourhoods around the country come alive with the sights, sounds and smells of traditional festivals (matsuri 祭) usually sponsored by a local shrine or temple. Notable matsuri often feature processions including elaborate floats (dashi 山車), which are pulled through the town, accompanied by performers and musicians.
Back in August, I managed to catch the last day of the impressive Hachioji Matsuri, the main festival of one of the largest cities in western Tokyo.
On the main road near the station, the giant dashi was being pulled around the streets by teams dressed in elaborate traditional clothes.
Masked performers took the stage on the dashi backed by drummers who both delighted and mildly scared children watched with rapt attention.
Some teams were carrying highly decorated portable shrines (omikoshi 神輿) which are carried on poles from and to their respective shrines.