Signage at the school.
Teachers helping get costumed.
The festival included a variety of vendors in the school yard and interior, including snacks and sweets, small toys, grilled meat, sushi, juice, all the expected things. And alcohol. Open container is perfectly legal here in Japan, and so seeing beer and sake at a regular matsuri, usually held at a shrine or public park, is totally normal, but at a public preschool at noon on a Thursday I was a bit surprised. It obviously didn't phase anyone else though, and the stall seemingly did quite a good business. It was also great fun to sit around and drink a few beers with the other class moms while the kids ran around in the afternoon.
Getting ready for the main event.
The primary activity of the matsuri was to parade around the portable (Shinto) shrine that is housed at the school. The principal and some of the smaller kids led with bell-topped staffs, our class came in the middle by pulling the taiko drum float, which we also played, and then the bigger kids carried the shrine at the end. Some of the baby and toddler parents followed with kiddos walking or being carried.
Here we go!
Blocking traffic with the taiko float.
Pulling the float through the streets.
When we arrived at the local Shrine, some of the priests met the kids, and there were a variety of announcements and things said back and forth.
At the Shrine.
More parading. I think we went about a mile in total.
Little dude taking his turn with the taiko, the highlight of his day.
The portable shrine.
Back at the school, we spent the afternoon hanging out in the schoolyard and interior, eating the bento lunches and snacks that were part of the day, playing games such as bingo, and singing karaoke, which included two times through the Japanese version of Let It Go from Frozen, from which there is no escape. Most of the vendor booths were staffed by retired folks from the neighborhood, many of whom took their turn at karaoke.
One last close up look at the portable shrine. The detail and construction is completely amazing.