Niji no Misaki Matsuri

More pictures and video will be posted as they become available.

A Facebook group for the even can be found here.

Following my 5 days hiking on Yakushima, I journeyed into Kumamoto Prefecture to soak in some tunes at the Niji no Misaki Matsuri, or End of the Rainbow Festival. It’s also called the Space Children Gathering.

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Set high up in the mountains near Mt. Aso, we drove past horse farms and grazing cattle to the festival site.

Several hundred people came to the event and the first thing I noticed were the large tepees set about the grounds. The main stage was backdropped by the largest, an we set our tents stage right in an area we called the suburbs.

The following 4 days were spent relaxing with only one day of drizzle. We mingled with the festival goers and found nearly every conglomeration of tents had a variety of instruments, including guitars, (lots of) drums, didgeridoos, flutes, and whistles. Spontaneous jam sessions would break out with great frequency.

It was nice to see a category of Japanese people that is not often gathered in such numbers. Perhaps many were salarymen in their normal lives, but many formed a kind of counterculture in opposition to the high consumerism normally found in Japan.

We were camped near a large tepee belonging to Yousuke and his lovely wife and child. They own and live on a tea farm in Kumamoto open to woofers. He even suggested we quite our jobs and work for him at ¥1200/hour. Tempting.

The music was good with several “hippy bands,” standard J-rock offerings, some gaijin bands and the great Guitar Panda.

Guitar Panda starts his set in a full Panda Bear mascot uniform, rocking out on the guitar. Then, he strips off to normal clothes for a few more numbers before his final incarnation as Calpis Presley. (Calpis if the name of a popular drink in Japan, and it looks like cow piss.) He rocks through 50’s and 60’s surf and rockabilly, often singing his own dirty Japanese lyrics in place of the original.

Facilities were bare, but water was brought in and there was forest to relieve yourself in. Our camp lacked nice camping gear and open air tents to sit under, so we improvised and erected out own ghetto covers with tarps and cut down trees. I myself doubted the stability, as I’m sure our neighbors did, but it stood the test of wind and rain to our surprise and only required a few swift cuts to take down. In fact, everyday we improved upon the design as its good to accomplish something everyday.

I’m lucky I live a scant few hours drive from it. We had neighbors who journeyed from Hiroshima and even hitchhiked from Tokyo. This event was easily on of the best things I’ve done in Japan and I’d recommend anyone to attend.



2 Comments

  1. Humphrey wrote:

    Hi there! I have stared a Facebook group for this event (Niji no Misaki Matsuri) – please join and recommend it to your friends if you’d like to. BTW, may I use the above except in the group profile? It’s such a good piece and gives a good idea of what the event is about.

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