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Parades with horses

Both in Japan and in Bavaria there are traditional festivals with horses. In this post I show some of my photos and give brief information about the festivals in Tokyo, Kamakura, Kyoto, Bad Toelz and Munich. To see more than 100 photos (mostly from Oktoberfest 2016) please visit the gallery.

1. Kanda Matsuri in Tokyo:
Always in May, the second largest shrine festival with 70 carrying shrines takes place in Tokyo. In the procession through the streets also riders from Soma (nearby Fukushima) participate  with their beautiful horses. Horse lovers visiting to Northern Japan in late July should see the “Soma Nomaoi”. It is probably the largest equestrian festival in Japan and unfortunately I have not yet managed to take part there.


2. Aoi Matsuri in Kyoto:
Last year in mid-May I was visiting to Kyoto and could luckily get hold of a good photo position during Aoi Matsuri. In this parade participate about 500 people, who are dressed in the style of the Heian period (794-1185). There are also some Mounted Samurai and high clergy. Heavy carts are incidentally taken in this move not by horses but by oxen. In the history of Japan it was only Samurai reserved to ride horses.


3. Leonhardiritt in Bad Tolz:
“Leonhardifahrt” or “Leonhardiritt” is a procession with horses, an old tradition in Bavaria. It takes place in Bad Toelz, but also other places in honor of St. Leonhard of Limoges mostly on November 6 every year. Leonhard is the patron saint of agricultural animals (today mainly horses) that are blessed in the pilgrimage. The horses used to play a significant role as pack animals and work for the rural population.


4. Customs Parade at Oktoberfest Munich:
Every first Sunday at Oktoberfest in Munich there is a big parade with traditional Customs and also many horses. In former times the horses were used to carry the heavy barrels of beer from the breweries, which were all located inside the city center of Munich, to the Theresienwiese, where the Oktoberfest is taking place. This year I took the chance to practice with my new camera (Canon 5D Mark IV).

Custom Parade at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich, Bavaria Custom Parade at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich, Bavaria Custom Parade at Oktoberfest 2016 in Munich, Bavaria


Kawagoe called “Little Edo” near Tokyo

Kawagoe ist located near Tokyo, last time I visited there in 2014 and took lots of photos of the old town center. For more photos you can see the visit the gallery.

Kawagoe is located about an hour by train from Tokyo. Your best choice is departing from Shinjuku Station with the Seibu-Shinjuku Line (Express) and riding till Hon-Kawagoe. Another option is to take line Tobu-Tojo departing from Ikebukuro to the station of Kawagoe-shi.

Ichiban Gai - "Little Edo"

Old Town: Ichiban Gai

Kawagoe is also called “Little Edo”, for some of its old buildings have survived both the earthquake of 1923 and the WWII air raids. In Kurazukuri Street there are found old fire-proof warehouses (Kura); today they are home to souvenir shops, restaurants and cafés. The oldest building preserved is the house of the Osawa family, built in 1792. Admission 200¥.


Bell-Tower (Tokinokane)

Another attraction is the wooden Bell-Tower (Tokinokane), raised 400 years ago. The current tower was rebuilt in 1893, following a fire. Till today, it tells the time four times per day (at 6am, 12am, 3pm and 6pm).

Candy Alley

Candy Alley

The narrow Candy Alley, lined with sweet-shops, is bound to provoke nostalgic childhood memories among many Japanese people. The origin of this alley dates back to the early Meiji Era (1868–1912).

Museum of Kawagoe

Kawagoe City Museum

The Kawagoe City Museum is quite new and gives a good introduction into the history of the town. Special attractions are the model replicas of the old town and the backgrounds and construction of the fire-proof warehouses (Kura). Open daily except Monday 9am–5pm (closed at the 4th Friday of each month, the day following a holiday, and 28 Dec–4 Jan), admission 200 ¥.

Honmaru Goten

Honmaru Goten

Honmaru Goten is the only preserved building of Kawagoe Castle, first built in 1497. Kawagoe Castle served to Tokugawa Ieyasu as his most important defensive fortification towards the North. Honmaru Goten was the innermost building of the palace and the feudal lord’s residence. The current building is a reconstruction, dating from 1848. Opening hours see City Museum, admission 100 ¥.

Kitain Temple

Kitain Temple

The Kitain Temple belongs to the buddhist Tendai sect and was founded in 830. In 1300, Lord Gofushimi nominated it as future main temple of the Tendai in Japan; it remains main temple of the Kanto area. Some buildings of the Kitain temple represent the oldest preserved remains of the Edo castle in old Tokyo (Edo), for Shogun Iemitsu ordered to bring some of the buildings to Kawagoe, in order to rebuild the Kitain temple there. One of the most beautiful parts is said to be the place where Shogun Iemitsu was born. Another attraction are 540 figures made of stone, among which no two faces are alike and each of them is supposed to express a different human emotion. Each year at 3 Jan, the so-called Daruma Festival is celebrated on the temple grounds. Open daily 8:50am–4pm, admission 400 ¥.