Midnight Fox Parade

FoxParade2

Middle school boys in foxface and golden skirt-pants carrying gigantic fox heads through the streets of Tokyo? Can you think of a better way to ring in the new year?

Every December 31st at midnight, the good citizens of Oji gather at the local inari shrine to show the furry-tailed messengers of the gods a good time. Like all Shinto festivals, this one features copious amounts of sake (in this case, they’re ladling out the hot, sweet, so-unfiltered-you-nearly-have-to-chew-it brew called amazake), flutes & drums, and people dressed in period costume and sneakers. But that’s just for starters!

Participants and spectators alike wear fox masks, but the thing I love about this festival is that under the fox masks people are wearing...fox makeup!

Participants and spectators alike wear fox masks, but the thing I love about this festival is that under the fox masks people are all wearing…fox makeup!

Foxmobile!

Foxmobile!

No shrine parade would be complete without flute-playing vixen.

No shrine parade would be complete without flute-playing vixen.

The venerable fox figure itself gets a ride through town...

The venerable fox figure itself gets a ride through town…

...as do children of all ages, even the littlest nipper, who got carried in style.

…as do children of all ages, even the littlest nipper, who got carried in style.

The many faces of Japan's most elusive trickster are on display, including Mr. Giant Scary Fox there, in the white hakama.

The many faces of Japan’s most elusive trickster are in attendance, including Mr. Giant Scary Fox there, in the white hakama.

Fox goods were all around, but the ones I was really coveting was this pair of puppets.

Fox goods were all around, but the ones I was most coveting were these puppets.

Read a novel set in Tokyo

When Detective Kenji Nakamura’s phone rings with the news that his mother’s death wasn’t an accident, his life begins to unravel…read more