A 7am departure from Kanazawa and I was on my way to Takayama to attend the Sanno Matsuri (Takayama Spring Festival), one of the most popular festivals in Japan, with accommodations typically booked up a year in advance.  This year was no exception, however with the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear worries many people had cancelled their trips to the area.  After initially being told that the festival had been cancelled (like many had been), I was happy to find out it was still occurring and lucky enough to find a room at a local ryokan which presumably had been freed up by a cancellation.

Having been to Takayama on my first trip to Japan, I knew my way around.  On my previous stay I had enjoyed sampling the sake’s in the old part of town and intended to do the same again, however the balance of my stay would be spent photographing the local festival, floats, and parade.

I arrived mid-morning and headed to the ryokan (notably, the same one where I spent my previous trip), to drop off my luggage.  My room was ready, which was surprising, so I had some tea, organized my camera gear for the day, and headed out.

It was still before lunch, so I headed across the canal and down along the morning market towards the centre of town where the marionettes were set to do one of four shows this weekend.  The floats, normally on display in rotation through the year, come out twice a year – one for the spring festival, and one for the fall – and three of them were setup to do a show.

After the marionettes show, I did my best to avoid the hoards of people and headed into the old part of town where I sampled some of the local food and sake.

Another marionette show in the afternoon took place, and I worked my way into the crowd to try and get a different/better perspective which provided difficult.  Too many people, in too small a place – it didn’t help that people were trying to move through the crowd, bumping people as they went.

Following the second show, I found my way over to the afternoon parade route and captured some images of people in traditional garb as they made their way through town along with the festival floats in toe.  One of the challenges with the floats is their inability to steer – so much muscle went into forcing them in a particular direction, and that left their mark on the stone road.  The procession stopped very often to allow for the floats to be realigned, and served as an opportunity for people to take a rest.

After the parade I wandered around town for a bit, sampled some more sake, and then headed back to the ryokan for some dinner.

In the evening, the highlight of the festival was to take place – a parade through town of the floats light up.  After dinner I headed out snapped some photos of people enjoying the street food before finding a good spot to watch the lit floats go by.

I moved around a fair bit to try and get the best perspective, before deciding to call it a night and walked back towards the ryokan, along the street of food stalls, again snapping some photos of the various delicacies.