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Kurayami Matsuri (Darkness Festival) 2023

Watch this surreal night-time light procession which will throw you back in times of ancient Japan

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Kurayami Matsuri or the Darkness Festival is one of the oldest Japanese celebrations in the Kanto area. It is held annually between April 30th and May 6th, at Okinatuma Shrine, one of the oldest in Japan, located in Fuchu City, Tokyo. The festival usually includes yabusame or horseback archery competition, and traditional dances in masks by adults and children. There is also a daytime parade accompanied by the beat giant taiko drums. But most people come to Okinatuma to watch a nighttime parade of 8 portable shrines held on May 5th.

Fuchu is located 20 minutes from the centre of Tokyo. Okunitama Shrine was founded here in the 2nd century AD. The Kurayami festival dates back to Utagaki, an ancient gathering of farmers. Teenage boys and girls traditionally go to the festival together, so it is very popular among youth.

Each of eight floats has its own theme and colour. The floats are lit up with lanterns and lights, which creates a mystical and surreal atmosphere. There is even a haunted house on the site. The shrine carrying ceremony lasts for the whole night till morning.

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