March 20, 2013

Yushima Tenjin's Monkey Show

The second time I visited Yushima Tenjin's Ume Festival, just as I was about to leave, I saw a huge crowd gathered around...something.

It turned out to be a saru mawashi (monkey show). The last time I saw one was also at a Tenjin Shrine, in Kameido.

As excited I get to see the monkey, I have reservations about the existence of saru mawashi. It doesn't feel good to see a monkey tied up and made to perform, with the monkey's supposed stupidity serving as a schtick for the whole show. I worry: are they being treated right?

My favorite moments were the monkey simply being a monkey: bored out of his mind and picking dirt out of his fingernails.

After the show, everyone wanted a shot of him, so he obliged, like a star posing for paparazzi.

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