YAMAGA, Kumamoto -- Some 1,000 women wearing golden lanterns made of paper on their heads performed traditional dances in this western Japanese city on the night of Aug. 16.
The performance was the closing event for the Yamaga Toro Matsuri lantern festival, held on Aug. 15 and 16.
Shortly after 8:00 p.m. on the last day of the festival, dancers wearing traditional summer yukata began dancing to the folk song "Yoheho bushi" in a ring around a stage, the soft light of the washi Japanese paper lanterns creating a fantastic atmosphere. The performance had previously consisted of two parts, but was reduced to one starting this year to reduce the burden on the dancers.
"The dancers and the visitors were united, and the festival was wonderful," commented 54-year-old Kyoko Hashimoto, a Fukuoka resident attending the festival for the first time.
The festival apparently has its origins in an ancient Japanese story about locals guiding Emperor Keiko (71-130 A.D.) to safety by torchlight after he became lost in a thick fog along the Kikuchi River.
(Japanese original by Kohei Shimizu, Kumamoto Bureau)