People always ask me how much I loved Tokyo and I always reply, “not very much!”. The reason is fairly simple. In my opinion, other than Akihabara, there is not much in Tokyo I couldn’t see in Manhattan. I didn’t go to Japan to hang around with a bunch of non-Japanese people, I went to Japan to experience traditional Japanese culture.
And nothing could be more Japanese than the Kasedori Festival in Yamagata prefecture. The festival takes place in February when it’s freezing cold. People dress up in straw costumes that are supposed to resemble birds. As these “birds” dance, make bird sounds and shout out things like “take care with fire” and “prosperous business!” they are drenched with buckets of ice water. Clearly being a fire prevention festival it makes sense to drench them with water, but I have no idea why they’re birds….
But it’s these kinds of festivals that make Japan great. If you plan a trip to Japan, don’t spend your time in Tokyo. Head to the small towns and villages throughout Japan and try to experience traditional Japanese culture.
The Kasedori festival happens each year in February. It starts at the Kaminoyama Castle and ends at a local onsen. Check out the YouTube video below as well as a link to the official Yamagata website for more information.