Welcome, welcome to my special Anime Matsuri! It’s 8.08 pm now, which is precisely the time the night matsuri starts. Please come only in your yukata and clogs. You can buy food from our food stands lined along the road, where we have grilled crayfish, candy floss and beer! We also have games for you to try your luck in, such as fishing for prize items, or hoopla. There’s a stage right at the end for our performances, where traditional dancers will dance to music throughout the night.
Does this sound familiar? It should, because the matsuri appears in almost every realistic modern-day anime. It appears almost all the time in Natsume Yuujinchou (where spirits are often attracted), is a major theme in Ookamikakushi and is the place where young boys and girls confess their love~. Even Free! and Seto no Hanayome had an episode dedicated to it. There are many matsuris, or festivals, scattered throughout the year in Japan. They are usually held near shrines, I believe, and seems kinda like a night market as Singapore knows it, except with more fanfare. I believe certain anime festivities are themselves called matsuri, such as the Funan Anime Matsuri held in May this year at Funan Digitalife Mall. Anime matsuri are of course but parodies of the real thing, and most of the time they’re just a fancy name for “anime fair”. Singapore has a Natsu Matsuri held by the Japanese Association, though, at the end of August, and that is in no way anime-related. In fact, they even ban the presence of cosplayers in the Natsu Matsuri since it is a serious event meant to celebrate the end of summer and Japanese culture, and cosplay is totally inappropriate in that place. It’s like speaking Singlish at the National Day Parade, just because we’re known worldwide for Singlish.
I think the awesome part of matsuri is the outfit. Dressed in a bathrobe and casual slippers at night must be cooling and casual, and you’ll get to see all your friends in something you don’t normally see! It’s like a night party that families approve of. I’ve only ever worn a yukata in a hotel in Hokkaido, and it was completely insecure for me to be without any garment inside, but I guess the cloth is thick enough, and the belt tied tightly enough, that there should be no accidents. At least, I never saw any in anime, thankfully. Not even the most sexualised anime like Mirai Nikki had any accidents in a yukata (but the female lead did “accidentally” have her swimsuit untied in the pool). Perhaps Japan is stubbornly respectful of this part of its culture. Every country has its reservations.
Anyway, someday I would love to visit a matsuri! I probably would not stay very long because it will probably be boring and very bright with all that fluorescent lighting. But it does sound like an experience, if I can keep my yukata presentable long enough. Or maybe I will just walk in in a blouse and skirt.