If you’ve been following my blog since a little while ago, you’d know there’s a weird shrine near where I live. Last saturday, apparently there was a festival there, though no one that I’ve asked up to this point remembers why or how this festival started. The best guess that anyone had was that the festival was there for celebrating the blooming sakura. In any case, this was a fairly small festival (so it’s nothing like you see in anime), but hopefully it is still interesting to you guys!
The Japanese matsuri always involves several hundred members of the community pulling a decorated float, where several important memebers of the community sit, to the nearest shrine. The start point is usually quite far away from the shrine that the float is meant to end up at, and so it is not unusual that this portion of the festival lasts the majority of the day.
The pullers themselves are divided into several groups indicated by the color of their uniform. You can also see people are wearing the blue jackets with the red writing on their backs, those are the coordinators who make sure everyone is on the same page when it comes to when to pull and when to stop. Theese people shout SEI!!! NO!!! to keep everyone pulling at the same time too!
This mini float is pulled along with the noise making group, which follows closely behind the main float. They mainly use flutes, but the music they were making just sounded like random garbled mess, sorry. Nonetheless, these people seem popular, as the crowd cheers when they show up.
These guys dressed in pink bunch up at the back of the float. The float doesn’t come with turnable front wheels, so the job for these guys is to shout SEI NO!! lift the float up together, reorientate the float in the right direction, and let it down without gettin the people sitting up on top too pissed :P. They also help push when the terrain gets rough.
Who says Japan is short on little kids! There were approximately 100 kids attending this festival. They travel at the front of the groups that are pulling, so they fulfill a sort of symbollic role without being in danger of getting crushed by adults who are actually pulling as hard as they can.
Approximately every 20-30 minutes, the float stops and is turned 90 degrees. Then all the pullers gather around in a circle and perform some sort of ritual dance where they sing and take turns running into the middle of the circle and bump into each other. Then they fall over and laugh… I haven’t figured out why they do this lol.
For the old men who can’t participate, they get to fulfill the glamarous job of documentation. For some reason, old men in Japan tend to carry multiple DSLRs on them at a given time. The old man in the forground of my picture has the DSLR he is holding onto, which is a D80, a cheaper D60, and a telescoping lens as well. From those 3 things that I could see, that alone was over $1500 USD of camera equipment. He also has that tripod off to the side that’s another $50 dollars. I guess if you don’t know your cameras, you’d never guess he was holding a small fortune on him.
Homestretch! The float rolls home to the shrine and people get ready for the festivities that follow! Aka lunch :P. Except the line is hell….
Unfortunately, this festival didn’t have the usual anime fair of game booths, snacks, prize booths and what not… It did have the atmosphere though. I still want to go to one of those, time to continue my search! I also apologize for the poor pictures. The weather just never lets up, it’s always either raining or overcast :(. The material doesn’t seem as grand as what I usually report, but I thought it was interesting because it happened so close to where I live.
Anyway, until next time!