The DS Life: Holding handhelds in public

The DS Life is a weekly feature in which we scour the known world for narrative images of Nintendo's handheld and handheld gamers. If you have a photo and a story to match it with, send both to thedslife at dsfanboy dot com.

Every July, over a million visitors flock to Osaka's Tenjin Matsuri, a thousand-year-old tradition and one of Japan's three biggest festivals. The city's streets are choked with wandering crowds, food vendors, and parading pageants; police officers struggle just to keep the flood of people in order. At the chaotic celebration's edges, though, quiet, romantic moments can still be found.

Decorative lights and nearby trees reflect off the pond's dark water, as a couple huddles closely to share a Nintendo DS game. Is it his system or hers? He might be the one holding the handheld up, but the DS's color and her open bag suggest that it's a gentlemanly gesture on his part. If you must know, he's showing her a kanji trainer of some sort. We doubt that it's Kanji Dragon.

The woman is wearing a yukata, a light garment that you're likely familiar with if you've ever seen photos of any other Japanese summer event or an episode of Love Hina. As a general rule, younger girls wear yukatas with brighter and bolder patterns.

The Tenjin Matsuri festival honors the deification of Sugawara Michizane, the "patron god" of scholarship and art. Sugawara -- a ninth-century poet, politician, and scholar -- died in exile, having been wrongfully accused of treason. After his passing, a series of storms, floods, and deaths were traced to his vengeful spirit. The imperial court scrambled to placate Sugawara by clearing his name and promoting him to godhood.

Shrine maidens, umbrella dancers, and thousands of other participants -- all in Heian-era costume -- celebrate Tenjin Matsuri by marching from the Temmangu Shrine to the Okawa river. Ritual drums and chants guide the procession.

Hundreds of boats parade up and down the Ogawa river, some carrying decorated palanquins and mikoshi shrines, others ferrying court dancers and traditional theatre acts for entertainment. Barges and private boats are also loaded up with people hoping to get a better view of the two-day event's main attraction.

At the festival's climax, over four thousand fireworks color Osaka's evening sky. Spectators cheer as what seems like a never-ending stream of blasts and patterns close the night.

Have you ever kissed someone you love under an exploding sky? Thunder beats at your eardrums like a quickened heartbeat and that smell of gunpowder -- countless struck matches -- sighs around you. It's well worth putting your Nintendo DS into sleep mode for.

[All photos are courtesy of Andrew Magrath.]

This article was originally published on Joystiq.