Constantly distracted by the intriguing vending machines that flicker in the distance – we hand them Yen with a bow and two handed exchange, as we’ve become accustomed.
Greeted by the smell of hundreds of food stalls, we watch cans of sake float in steaming water and sit along the main parade strip to play cards on the chilled pavement.
Fireworks light up the sky every 15 minutes from 5:30 to 10, somehow no less surprising, just as captivating, more incredible each time.
Intricately carved floats lined in embroiled tapestries and lit by dim lanterns in the distance, simply beautiful … and tugged by long, thick rope and the hands of hundreds of young adults, they soon become symbols of celebration. The people jump and run towards each other, a giant muddle of limbs, distant chanting becoming shouts of WASSHOI. We yelled it back excitedly before asking the group beside us what it meant:
“No one is sure – it is a word for celebrating!”
We bounced with the chants to defeat the cold.
Sight spotted with the memory of glowing lanterns, we line up in a sea of impressively orderly commuters. Train windows shake with the last shimmering blasts of the night. Wedged in the carriage, doing nothing to hold myself up – I am not even sure if my feet are still touching the ground.
// Chichibu Night Festival, December 3