Cheapo Weekend for July 20/21: Ueno Natsu Matsuri Parade, Bellies Dancing and Hanabi Season Starts

Greg Lane

The Ueno Natsu Matsuri Parade takes place this Saturday, the 20th along a 500m stretch of Chuo Dori starting from Ueno Park.  The “variety” parade will feature 38 teams of dancers with styles ranging from Yosakoi to Samba. The parade starts at 5:30pm and will probably run through until about 9:30pm.  If you want to make a day of it, start with the museums and have a look at Ameyokocho Market while you’re there.  The closest station is Ueno on numerous JR and Tokyo Metro lines.

Nakaita in Itabashi has a ‘Heso Matsuri‘ (link in Japanese) on this Saturday.  Heso is Japanese for belly button.  This festival will features Eisa Dancing, conventional Belly Dancing and ‘Heso Odori’ – belly button dancing.  As far as we can tell, Heso Odori is basically painting a face on your belly and putting something that looks like a hat over your head.  It’s all good fun though and it doesn’t go for very long so the joke will have some time to wear off.  The even starts at 2pm with water being sprinkled on the main shopping street in Nakaita.  This will be followed by various kids parades with the main dancing happening a little later in the afternoon.  The Nakaita Shopping Street is near Nakaitabashi Station on the Tobu Tojo Line.

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The major fireworks festivals (Hanabi in Japanese) also kick off on Saturday with the Adachi Fireworks Festival (link in Japanese).  The colourful explosives will be lobbed into the night sky above the Arakawa River which is about a 15 minute walk from Kitasenju Station. The best spots are saved for paying punters, but it’s not like you won’t get an amazing view from a few hundred meters away.  Organizers say 12,000 individual fireworks will go up in smoke starting from 7:30pm.

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