ODA NOBUNAGA TOUR/ Azuchi Nobunaga Matsuri

The day before my return to Italy, was the day that dedicated to the Azuchi Nobunaga Matsuri. Besides the one in Gifu, this is a festival dedicated exclusively to Nobunaga, so it was my priority for this tour.

Once I arrived at Azuchi station, I noticed something different from usual... Truth is, the statue of Nobunaga was covered up and the whole area was going through a huge reconstruction:
Apparently it's because of the new look of the JR Azuchi Station.
I took a picture of the project so to show you what they have in mind for it: I really like the bits of ispiration from the Azuchi castle! On top of it, it looks like this thing is going to get quite big-- Personally I hope that they'll add coin lockers, too!

Due to the works on the station, the parade followed a different route than usual. The opening ceremony was hosted in the precints of the Primary School of Azuchi:

It consisted of a taiko show followed by some words from the administration of the city and the re-enactor of Nobunaga himself...
It was possible to steal some pictures of the samurai, but I wasn't very amused by the quality of the costumes... Above you can see a shot of Nobutada, Nobunaga's son, who was quite handsome!

So, the parade started around 11:00 in the morning!
On the front lines you can see the students and the music band of the Shiga prefecture's fire-fighters!
The audience was quite enthusiastic!

Here are a few characters that I managed to spot and take pictures of during the parade!
First is Ieyasu Tokugawa:

Akechi Mitsuhide:

Hideyoshi Toyotomi:

Then it was the turn of Nobunaga's crew and people just went crazy---
How was I supposed to take pictures here?!

So, let's start with Oichi and her daughters; on the left you can spot Ranmaru and his brothers:

Nobutada and Nouhime:

And our glorious Nobunaga!

I had the impression that he was some kind of "authority" in town! Quite bossy, ahah!
He looked quite motivated, and people seemed to enjoy that too!
Personally I wasn't very enthusiastic about the choice, but since Nobunaga was 48 on the day of his death, maybe the choice for his character made sense.

The whole place was quite crowded!

I followed the whole parade to take pictures, and people were just everywhere!
The most of them were definitely locals, but I spotted some foreigners faces there too, and definitely a few Japanese tourists...

The first stop of the parade was the Seminario.
It was the first institute dedicated to Catholic education in Japan: Nobunaga allowed its construction right there in Azuchi.
Here the guys rested and enjoyed some refreshment.
I considered to take pictures but I really didn't want to bother these guys, who marched under the sun in such costumes, while they were drinking their cute fruit juices!

Once there, there was a chance to follow the parade via "river".
The re-enactors reached the "historical village" on boat, and some people managed to reserve their trip too!

Eheh, the ferrymen were dressed all ninja-like!
The second pictures is the group of Nobutada, Nouhime and Nobunaga on a boat!
Unfortunately that was the best picture that I could take, apparently I picked the wrong spot for my hide--!

Rather than by boat, I preferred to march like a good soldier... I was in good company!
Sorry for the quality of the picture but I was pretty much running after these guys... What fast feet!
Despite the walk, I still managed to enjoy the scenery, it was quite cool walking around rice paddies!

From there, first I got my stamp for the stamp rally at Azuchi, then went to the "historical village" of Azuchi, the area dedicated to museums and old buildings at the feet of the castle ruins.
The whole area was decorated as a rakuichi rakuza market, and lots of events were scheduled for the day... Unfortunately, there wasn't any information about hours and locations, and this demotivated me a bit.

For an incredible stroke of luck I managed to see the event that intrigued me the most, the "one man musical" of Takeo Ito, The Story of Nobunaga Dream (信長夢物語):

This guy acted as Nobunaga, Mitsuhide and Nouhime (and other characters), and showed us the life of Nobunaga 'til Honnoji. Lots of modern interpretations of Atsumori and the like!
It was quite entertaining and I'm very glad that I managed to see it!

After the show I decided to take a walk in the area, then I joined the fun of the "matsuri", with its food stall and touristic stands; there was also a stand for Gifu city and live concerts!

After this there was a meeting with the bushotai of Gifu and Azuchi scheduled, hawking demonstrations and the usual arquebusiers thing, but honestly, I was so tired that I couldn't bear to follow the whole thing to the end ^_^;

So, if you are looking for further pictures or videos, you can get those from the website of the event!

In the end it was all about happy people gathering around the figure of Nobunaga, the inspiration that this guy is able to give even during modern times...
So there we were, under Nobunaga's "Tenka Fubu" motto, rejoicing for his deeds and enjoying the peaceful time that this awesome figure of Japanese history longed so much for...