Fishermen disguised as a woman – Oose Matsuri
Numazu (沼津) is one of the main port towns in Shizuoka prefecture (静岡県). When I think about fishermen, I imagine tanned, quiet, patient and tough guys. Maybe the Image of the fisherman from "The Old Man and the Sea" or the young boy from Shiosai (潮騒/ The Sound of Waves) by Yukio Mishima (三島由紀夫) stuck in my mind.
But the festival held in Numazu has just blown my typical picture of fishermen. In early April, at Osezaki (大瀬崎), there held a big and little peculiar festival, Oosematsuri.
On this day, many fishing boats gather in the port from all fishing towns in the area, sometimes about 100 boats come to Osezaki. All ships are well decorated and so colourful. Each ship is a team, young fishermen compete by playing musical instruments and dancing. The port becomes such a mess in a good way. Also colourfully decorated ships are quite astonishing to see.
The highlight of this event is that all fishermen are disguised as a woman, faces are painted in white and they wear girl-like kimono. These tough guys in pinky kimono wave fans up and down shouting, "Chan chara okashi, Chara okashi (ちゃんちゃらおかし、ちゃらおかし)", means Ohh, funny funny.
All the ships arrive at Osezaki but their main aim is to go to the Ose-Jinja (大瀬神社/Ose Shrine) to pray for a good haul and the safety during the season. Since the shrine is on the top of the mountain, young fishermen climb up dancing or running with girls´ kimono. It´s funny but is a spectacular at the same time.
I couldn´t find why they have to disguise as a woman. But despite of comical aspect, Osematsuri is still an event for tough fishermen. Their dance on the ship is called Isami-odori (勇み踊り/brave dance), it´s supposed to be a manly performance. When the ships stop at the port, a straw rice bag will be thrown into the sea. The man who jumps into the water and grabs it has an honour to visit the shrine. Osematsuri is a symbol of braveness for a fisherman.