Narita Gion Matsuri
The summers in Japan are always hot, humid, and near unbearable. If it weren't for the fact that Japanese summers are also filled with traditional festivals and celebrations, I would be hard pressed to find an excuse to leave the climate controlled comfort of the indoors.
These festivals, known as matsuri (祭り) in Japan, are especially abundant in the summertime, taking place in cities all across the country. Among the more popular of them that occur in my neck of the woods is the Narita Gion Matsuri. Held annually in early July, it draws thousands upon thousands of people to the streets near and around Narita's Shinshō-ji Temple.
The people and congestion of the streets can become a bit much at times, but there is always a great time to be had watching the revelry and, as with all festivals, taking in of a fair amount of traditional culture, music, attire, and food. Plus, it's always remarkable to watch those that take part in the festival pull large and very heavy wooden floats known as dashi (山車) up and down the steep hill that runs in front of the temple.
Aside from simply enjoying the views and atmosphere, festivals are also a great place for developing and sharpening photographic skills. With all the activity, motion, lights, and expressions, there are no shortage of opportunities to work on anticipating, seeing, and acting quickly to capture changing light, dynamic moments, and short-lived expressions.