Balancing on floating squared timber logs at Kiba
21 October 2018
“Kiba-no-kakunori” or literally “Ride on squared timber logs of Kiba” is a performing art developed by workers who dealt with timber at Kiba, the City of Koto in the southeast of Tokyo.
This art resembles “log-rolling“, a water sport that involves balancing on logs floating in a swimming pool. But it has much more artistic, acrobatic and entertaining elements than simple log-rolling.
Every year this unique “intangible cultural heritage” activity is presented at a community festival held at Kiba.
Kiba in the Edo period
Since the Edo period in the 17th century, the capital Edo, and later Tokyo, has been a great consumption center of materials, including timber wood.
Timber logs used to be put together in the form of rafts and transported by the rivers. At the mouth of the Sumida River and the waterfront of today’s Tokyo Bay, Kiba used to be a receiving point and distribution center of timber wood, as its name indicates (Kiba means a “wood site”).
Since the Meiji era in the end of the 19th century, however, the surroundings of Kiba were landfilled and the waterfront moved away.
The timber center was relocated further south to Shinkiba (“shin” means “new”). Today, many timber companies are still found in Shinkiba, not far from Tokyo Disneyland.
Square-timber-log rolling of Kiba 2018
Such environment has brought forth the art of “kakunori” in Kiba, where, in the past, the workers skillfully manipulated floating timber logs with a simple hook in the hand.
In the demonstration of this art, the performers will balance on squared timbers floating in the pool of Kiba Park. And it’s not limited to log-rolling. They will accomplish wonderful acrobatic feats – such as posing on top of ladders or on a tower of three-tiered boxes put on the floating logs, to the accompaniment of festive music and narration.
Community Festival of the City of Koto
(“Koto kumin matsuri”)
“Kiba-no-kakunotri” will be demonstrated as part of the community festival to be held at Kiba Park on 20 -21 October (from 10 am to 4 pm). The festival is great for a family visit, with markets, stalls, live performances and even rickshaw ride.
A stroll through Fukagawa neighbourhood
After enjoying the amazing feats, you may also like to set off on a self-guided culture walk in this neighbourhood called Fukagawa.
The nearby Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art is unfortunately closed at the moment for a renovation, but you can stop for a nice brew at one of these trendy Japanese cafés and international ones – the Seattle-based Blue Bottle Coffee or Allpress Expresso from Auckland.
And why not continuing toward the subway Kiyosumi-shirakawa Station, and visit the lovely Fukagawa Edo Museum and Kiyosumi Garden? That will complete your wonderful cultural weekend in Tokyo.
Related post: New Year celebration at Kiyosumi Garden (read article)
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