There were stalls selling all kinds of fun things, like balloons and masks:
Other stalls were running popular festival games. One common one is fishing for goldfish. Instead of a net you have a little scoop lined with paper, which weakens when it gets wet and eventually breaks. The challenge is catch as many goldfish as you can before your scoop disintegrates!
There were various parades going down the main street throughout Saturday and Sunday. The parade on Saturday afternoon was mainly groups of people, such as work or neighbourhood groups, dancing. Here are the city hall staff, including the Mayor in the middle there looking at you:
A local bank group performed a dance using umbrellas, which originally comes from Tottori, the prefectual capital.
Another bank group:
Those traditional dances are very sedate and more like walking-with-actions than really dancing. However, there were lots of other styles too. One of my favourites is the yosakoi dance, which comes from Kochi prefecture in Shikoku, the smallest of Japan's 4 main islands. The dancers jump and whirl and use wooden clackers. Their costumes are cooler too :-)
There were also a lot of street dance/hip-hop groups, especially kids from dance schools. The last part that we saw of the parade featured men carrying mikoshi, a kind of portable shrine:
After all that excitement it was time for tired little K to go home, so we didn't see the evening part of the parade this year. In the evening the main event is the manto parade - literally, 10,000 lanterns. Men carry very long bamboo poles with lanterns hanging off them. Of course, simply carrying them isn't challenge enough so the poles are balanced on the palm of the hand, on the shoulder, hip, even chin! H has done it a few times in the past with his colleagues and I enjoy cheering them on. There is always at least one pole which comes crashing down, scattering the spectators, but that just adds to the fun...