Full gallery here:
Just a few short miles from my house lies a small shrine by the name of Usioda, and they know how to throw a festival! There were dozens of food vendors selling everything from takoyaki to sour plum candy with everything in between. I had the delightful company of two wonderful Japanese tour guides who made sure that I did not go hungry. Ayane in particular was undefeatable in rock-paper-scissors, winning more than one free entrée.
Aside from the magnificent display of food, there were the traditional festival games of paper lottery, cork air guns, and ring tosses, as well as my personal favorite, scoop the turtle (see gallery). The only game where you get to keep the turtles you catch.
The dashi (float) procession was really something to see though. There were quite a few different dashi floating through the festival with some lively men and women hoisting them up and down. The main event is the cover photo for this page, where the omikoshi is hoisted up and down and spun around in front of the shrine. These dashi weigh a lot, so this is no minor feat. This is immediately proceeded by those carrying the float to charge down through a crowd onto the main roads carrying the float. It was an amazing experience.