Now that Nagasaku Kunchi is over you’d think the festival mood would die down, too, but there’s still a lot happening!
There’s plenty going on inNagasaki in autumn!
The stage for this festival is Wakamiya Inari Shrine in the Irabayashi area of Nagasakicity.
It’s only a small shrine, but it’s bursting with people! Crowds visit every year on the 14th and 15th of October to see Takengei.
Takengei is a hono-odori (a dance performed in front of shrines), but one including acrobatic stunts, as its name in Japanese suggests (gei meaning performance, feat or craft).
It is performed on bamboo poles well over ten metres tall.
The performers clad themselves all in white and put on fox masks.
Let’s start with the fox cubs.
In Takengei, a high-level performance is carried out to the spectators’ shouts of “Yoisho!” (“Heave-ho!”) in time with music.
The fox cubs climb up to these shouts and strike a pose at the top!
By the way, this fox cub is a third grader at elementary school! Apparently there are even three year olds who perform the fox cub role.
When they’ve climbed to the top, it looks like this. The bamboo for the fox cubs is only five metres, but it’s really high!
This next fox cub is a sixth grade elementary student.
They’re incredibly skilled, and perform ignoring the crowd’s fear.
What they’re carrying in their hands is called makimono – things like towels and mochi that they scatter about from up high.
At the end of the adult performance, they even throw a live chicken!
Now on to the adults.
They perform dressed as both male and females foxes – but somehow they have a strange air about them, as if they’re not humans dressing up, but actually possessed by foxes.
Audience, try calling out “Yoisho!” together!
This bamboo pole is over ten metres high…
As you can see, there’s no safety line, either. Visitors watch the performance with bated breath.
Oh no, it looks like they’re going to fall!
One person rests their arms and legs across two bamboo poles, making a bridge that a second person hangs from.
No-one will forget a performance done high up like this.
Bamboo is naturally flexible so it bends back and forth during the performance, and the foxes also apply their weight, like on a swing, to make it sway to and fro.
Maybe you understand what I mean. It sways heavily to the right, then to the left. The foxes perform frightening stunt after frightening stunt like this, as if they enjoy the shrieks from the audience below.
After this, the foxes tumble down head over heels and the performance finishes. This bit was too fast so I wasn’t able to get a good picture, sorry!
There are also Takengei performances from8pm, which are done by the light from bamboo lanterns and have a fantastic, dreamy atmosphere. Make sure to stop by on your way home from work.
So please remember – the week after NagasakiKunchi is Takengei!
Dates: 14th – 15th October
14th October:2pm and8pm
15th October:12pm,3pm and8pm
Venue: Wakamiya Inari Shrine
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