One of our fellow foreigners was out walking around his area and made the mistake of speaking to a local. Minutes later he was kidnapped and made to join a cult take part in an annual community dance celebrating the time a passing visitor dug the area out of some deep bad-harvest problems by gifting them some pumpkins. Every year since, the locals have performed a ceremony commemorating this.

So in solidarity, we went to support our boy, and make sure he left alive. Visions of him being painted orange and set alight Wickerman style were scary, but also unmissable, so off to Takada we went.

Good skies as always
The locals know how to throw a street party.

When we arrived we were greeted by this bloke in a mask, dancing on the stage in front of a crowd of rabid children, him dangling a fishing rod in front of them, they in turn snatching at it like piranha in a famine. Once suitably happy with the children’s performance, the masked gent then proceeded to reward their fandom with handfuls of sweets. It seemed like a fair deal.

Fawad surrounded by his fan club.

Another of our foreign compatriots was mobbed by children, only to find that they were some of his pupils. It is easier to pick out the Texan in a crowd than to identify 2 kids from the 7 schools of pupils it seems. For all we known they may have been doing a long con.

This guy fishing for kids. Acceptable in Japan I guess.
Obligatory Takoyaki stand. Every Festival, no exceptions.
The local pan pipe band. My Japanese is next to nothing, but I was able to translate that they are “the only pan pipe band in Takada, and there for, the No. 1 pan pipe band in Takada”.

Preceding Adam’s upcoming dance, and after the child catcher was removed, the local Pan pipe group took to the stage and started their set with a banger, Simon & Garfunkel’s club anthem “El Condor Pasa”. After the crowd reclaimed their clothing and the blood was swept up, they played on with a set that will go down in the history books. There was a wig used at one point, and a dance similar to a man shaking his fist at a belligerent squirrel in a tree, eating his nuts. 4/5 Garys.

Karaage, or the health and safety oil explosion around kids waiting to happen. But I love it, so carry on.

And as is tradition with festivals, the karaage man was in full flow, until we tried to get some of his sweet chicken meat. He then decided his phone call was more interesting and the queue ground to a halt. Once all business was taken care of (FTSE, Nasdaq etc. I’m guessing) the chicken started flowing like hot battered chicken only can. 500yen for a big cup of kaarage, good price but more skin than usual. 3/5 Garys (karaage scale).

Japan loves to flirt with danger, by giving the kids what i expected to be sparklers, but were closer to miniature road flares.
Locals terrorizing the foreigners. Mostly with jumping and making weird noises.
I love telephone poles.
The pumpkins didn’t seem ripe. I hope there not another bad harvest because there’s gonna be a bit of a wait for these boys.
You stand around long enough while being white, you’ll be roped into whatever is happening. I hold a camera at all times to negate this.