Many of Japan's colourful festivals date from medieval times.
AERIAL VIEW Tokushima, Shikoku Island, Japan
AERIAL VIEW Tokushima streets with festival in progress
SV People dressed as "Tanuki", a raccoon dog looking like panda
SV Japanese girls in silver and gold brief costumes marching along street
SV "Tanuki" shaking hands with motorist as clown rides on bicycle waving to crowds
SVs Japanese children in scout uniform and other costumes in parade (3 shots)
SV Japanese bearers carry giant model of "Tanuki" as crowds watch (2 shots)
SV Person in Tanuki costume shaking hands with children
SV Live Tanuki crossing over ladder as children watch (2 shots)
CU PULL BACK TO GV Life-size Tanuki painted on boards with children putting their faces through the head holes (2 shots)
AERIAL VIEW AND LS Tokyo
SV Japanese men standing on heads on logs in Sumida River as crowds look on (2 shots)
SV Man walking on log with umbrella and falling in
SV Men preparing for log rolling display and then walking on logs over water carrying man in cradle who falls in water and crowd laugh (3 shots)
SV AND GV Six men log rolling and falling into water
SV AND GVs Man lies on ground with men balancing on top of him with bales of rice (4 shots)
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: Many of Japan's colourful festivals date from medieval times. Recent annual events have included tests of strength with bales of rice, log-rolling, acrobatic stunts and street celebrations with singing, dancing and parades of colourful floats.
SYNOPSIS: Tokushima City, on Japan's fourth largest island of Shikoku, is famous for its summertime "Awa-Odori" festival--one of the country's most ancient celebrations. But now it has started a new autumn - winter festival and the theme each year is the "Tanuki". This is Japan's lovable raccoon dog which looks rather like a tiny brown panda with black eyes.
It was only the third year of the festival, but it's already a firm favourite. Nearly half a million people joined in the fun. The Tanuki was chosen as the theme to celebrate the bond existing between humans and animals. In Japanese legend, the Tanuki is depicted as the cunning and resourceful hero. He'd described as being bale to talk to humans in their own language.
The Tanuki is often shown as an amusing rogue, often the worse for wear after over indulging in too much rice wine. But the children love him--the Tanuki is their favourite pet. The "Furusato", which means home-town festival, is enjoyed by revellers from all over Japan.
Another colourful event is the ancient art of log-rolling, and acrobatic stunts like this. Wood-workers compete against each other every year along the Sumida River in Tokyo. The main qualities needed are balance and agility. The festival has taken place in this Tokyo timber processing district for 300 years.
For their displays of log-rolling the competitors wear wooden clogs with very high platforms. And falling in the water will always amuse the festive crowds.
Not very far away, rice dealers take part in a strength contest. The highlight comes when a champion has friends standing on his stomach carrying bales of rice. He supports 1,000 kilograms (about 2,200 pounds) in a superb display of muscle control.