Processions of the Harvest Festival of Neuchâtel

Aikido floats
Unusual imagination and achievements – here is the challenge of our Dojo 😊 !

For several years the last weekend of September, our center has participated in two processions of the Harvest Festival:

  • The Saturday children’s parade, to which we have so far each year won one of the first four prizes and
  • the great Corso Fleuri on Sunday afternoon with about 30’000 spectators.

The theme of the tank best meets the specific demands of the organizer while remaining aligned with the promotion of Japanese culture, Aikido martial art, peace, harmony and non-competition.

As with every local project, we have achieved exploits thanks to the collaboration between the project leader Eric Graf and many friends and volunteers with a big heart, thanks to the technical knowledge of the community accompanied by a zest of experimentation…. Everything is always seasoned with lots of fun, meals together, fun, and funny moments with a highlight during the parades.

Here are our creations in recent years:

Edition 2019

20 articulated clones accompanied our tanks on Saturday and Sunday. The 2019 theme being “insta’grappe”, our clones tell the harmful effect of too much screen time as well as the beneficial effect of the practice of Aikido: the front clone is sick because too much in video games and on his phone, the rear clone is in good shape because he practices Aikido!

We distributed 3,500 flyers-mobile phones to the crowds on Saturday and Sunday. Our flowery tank decorated in Japanese style caused a sensation. On Saturday, thanks to our original ideas, we won the 2nd prize of the children’s procession!

2018 edition

Our giant aikidoka “Frankenkido” paraded for the second consecutive year in the streets of Neuchâtel accompanied by our mobile-dojos-tanks and the dance of our Japanese dragon! Frankenkido is seated in the children’s parade on Saturday and standing on Sunday at the Corso Fleuri. Tens of thousands of spectators could admire the show!

Edition 2017

Our giant aikidoka baptized “Frankenkido” (4 meters high) paraded on September 23 and 24 in the streets of Neuchâtel accompanied by our floats-dojos-mobiles and the dance of our Japanese dragon! Tens of thousands of spectators could admire the show!

2016 Edition

A new mobile Dojo paraded again at the Fête des Vendanges on September 25, 2016 in front of around 35,000 spectators.
Distributed masks
On Saturday September 24 our children paraded in the children’s procession with our dragon and a small hand-drawn chariot on which they could give mini demonstrations.

On Sunday we released the big game: around fifty participants made it possible to present our Dojo in an impressive way. The Dragon carried by 5 people led the way, followed by the children’s chariot (5mx2m) then the large chariot (5mx10m) and finally the aiki-tires and the distributors of flyers and gifts. The children’s chariot was towed by hand by two adults, while the large platform hides a chassis of motorized double axle truck that we have “tuned” by adding 4 additional wheels to the rear (invisible to spectators) to guarantee enough stability for aikidokas in action.

Between the two processions (Saturday and Sunday) we distributed around 2,500 gift samurai masks to child spectators and 3,000 Dojo flyers.

The next day the newspaper L’Impartial chooses our dragon for its first page!

Edition 2015

The first mobile Dojo paraded at the Harvest Festival on September 27, 2015 in front of more than 30,000 spectators!

Demonstrations of Aikido by children and adults were made on a moving tank of more than 10m! Our Dragon danced in front of the chariot to open the march!

The construction of the tank took almost 3 months. A good number of volunteers participated. Here are some key figures:

  • 55 people participated in the parade on Sunday September 27. The day before, 48 were in the children’s procession, but without the chariot.
  • The three-story pagoda is 3.90m high from the floor of the chariot and weighs around 400kg. It is entirely made of wood. The peak of the pagoda, the Sorin, was designed according to the rules of the art while respecting all the symbolic elements that constitute it.
  • The tori measures 3.93m high from the floor of the tank and is 4.50m wide. It also weighs 400kg and is made of solid Valais pine!
  • The Zen garden around the pagoda and at the foot of the tori used 500kg of stones from Lake Neuchâtel.
  • The rolling platform measures 10m x 5m and is made up of 160 boards of solid Valais pine. About 1.5 tons of beams and planks were necessary for its realization.

In total, around 1500 hours of work were invested to make this huge construction!

To see more photos and short films of this adventure, visit our Facebook page

Message published by the Embassy of Switzerland in Tokyo about our event on its Facebook site:

昨年、日本・スイス国交樹立150周年に際し、皇太子殿下をお迎えした、ヌーシャテルの合気道クラブ。今年は、「メイド・イン・スイスの合気道」をテーマに、ヌーシャテルで開催されたフェスティバルに出展。高さ4メートルの鳥居と仏塔からなる巨大な山車で、3万人が見守る中パレードをしました。この山車には、合気道の道場も設置され、観客にライブで合気道が披露されました。

The Aikido club in Neuchâtel, who welcomed His Imperial Highness Crown Prince Naruhito in Switzerland on the occasion of the 150 years of diplomatic relations between Switzerland and Japan, participated in a parade in Neuchâtel this year with a 4-meter-high Torii and the pagoda on the float! 30,000 people enjoyed the float which also had an Aikido dojo installed with live aikido performances!

Contact us for more information on our future plans
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