Lanterns and dumplings
Amongst the more official lanterns of the Mitarashi, there were a few created by children. I especially liked the Doraemon, Pikachu and Totoro designs. They add an air of homeliness to the festival. After drying off our feet we cycled to a famous restaurant nearby and ate warm mitarashi dango (sweet rice dumplings). I remember eating kakigori (shaved ice) here with Etsuyo a few years ago, though tonight it seemed especially busy. Mitarashi dango is a stick of five rice dumplings with sweet sauce in the shape of a man (?). The traditional sweet was originally created at the Shimogamo. Legend has it that when Emperor Godaigo (1288-1339) scooped up a handful of water from the Mitarashi Pond, a bubble floated to the surface and after a short interval four more. Mitarasahi dango was created to resemble these five bubbles. Shinto priests also make offerings of mitarashi dango during this festival.
Coming out of the restaurant we were stopped by the odd sight of city officials practicing traffic organisation for the upcoming visit by one of the Emperor's sons.