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.

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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.

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On the main road near the station the giant dashi were being pulled around the streets by teams dressed in elaborate traditional clothes.

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Masked performers took the stage on the dashi backed by drummers who both delighted and mildly scared children watching with rapt attention.

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Some teams were carrying highly decorated portable shrines (omikoshi 神輿) which are carried on poles from and to their respective shrines.

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