Wow........ I don't even know where to begin!!! During the last weekend of August I took part in one of the most amazing festivals ever!!!! The Noboribetsu Hell Festival!
Noboribetsu town is actually quite awesome in itself ... It has permanent devil statues, devil signs, devil toilets, devil shaped food and more!!! I went with Olivia and Antonio (2 fellow JETs) and I dragged them along to spot all of the devils in town. We also hiked the neighboring HELL VALLEY!!! which really did look like a smoky sulphury hell cauldron. This set us in the mood for the Hell Festival!!!
Once a year the "lid of hell pot" opens and the King of Hell comes to this hot spring town with the red and blue ogre devils.
Luckily we got to Noboribetsu Town early and caught the opening ceremony.... It started with a crazy huge mechanical bearded man who talked in a raspy dark evil voice who then transformed himself into a devil... Behind him a marching band of children playing "When the saints come marching in!" Hahaha.... Amazing! I love Japanese children!!! They can fit themselves into any situation!!!
After the saints went marching in - Taiko drummers started drumming to rattle the devil ogres up from hell!!!
I made a few ogre boyfriends during the parade... ;)
As night fell even more blue and red devil ogres entered boisterously in the grand Hell parade..... The bearded man made a 2nd appearance and spoke evil words of advice to the huge crowd with his beady devil eyes and then adults and children carried huge heavy devil heads and bodies down the street!!!
Then almost the entire town came dressed in various crazy costumes to dance as a large group with the devils. The dance was a series of waving your arms in the air and then giving yourself devil horns. Brilliant! The best group line dance I've learned to date!!!
Even a huge line of Minnie Mouses, Drag Queen Geishas and zillions of children with devil horns joined in the dance!!!
There were also loads of old men in their onsen robes (we shuddered just thinking how only a thin robe separated us from their nakedness) They reaked of beer and wanted to chat to us all night! They made sure we danced the devil dance with every single person in Noboribetsu.
Everyone LOVED having their photo taken!!! Whenever I jumped in a shot - dozens of people gathered around to take my photo... We felt like such celebrities!!! I have a feeling we appeared in all the local newspapers and TV stations the next day!
I also ate what I felt was hell food - octopus legs and squid chunks mixed in yaki soba. mmmm....
But the devil shaped cakes were to DIE for!!! mmmm....
I can't wait for next year to do it all over again!!!!
For more photos of the Hell Festival see: http://callieinjapan.shutterfly.com/800
and for Hell Valley shots look at: http://callieinjapan.shutterfly.com/781