Summer! Festivals! in Japan
Today I had a phonecall from my mum and she told me that finally the temperature lowed. Japan had an extremely hot summer this year. In the western part of Japan, it went up to 41°C! I don´t know how they survived.
Although the autumn is just around the corner, still Japan is in summer mode and there are Matsuri (festivals) going on. My auntie was saying in Facebook that she was going to one of those with her grandchildren. Recently she´s got a smart phone and she uploads anything on Facebook. It´s nice to see her being active and having fun. I wish my mum was good at technology even 1/3 of my auntie though.
Anyway. Summer festivals in Japan. Every region has their own tradition. They are similar yet different. This time we can see the one in a farming village in Chiba.
Text,photo and video Tomomi Kuramoto
On the 27th of July, Saturday, sunny and sometimes thundershower. There was a summer festival, which has a long tradition in a farming area near Narita airport in Chiba prefecture.
The day before and the day of the festival, children walk around the village holding a bunch of thin sticks with decorations, announcing everyone that there is a festival. Then in the early evening of the festival day, adults play the tambours all the way to the local shrine where they receive Omikoshi (御神輿/portable shrine).
The rhythm is a little unique, as you can see in the video, the third time of the triple time is always lauder also, each person beats it one tempo delayed. Fort he local people, this is the rhythm that they are used to since they were little, the sound of the tambours continues without pause on the way and they even change the tambour players while they are walking.
At dinnertime, Omikoshi, which was brought out of the local shrine earlier is placed on the resting spot. As soon as people see it, they come out the house to Omikoshi because usually there is a Saisen-bako (offering box). A person who throw the coin into it is served Sekihan (赤飯/red bean rice) by Omikoshi carriers.
This Sekihan isn´t usual either. Each family in the village cooks during the day and offers it to the shrine with some money. This means the colour, texture and the taste of Sekihan are different, and when people make Onigiri (おにぎり/rice ball) with it, they look like patchwork balls. But people believe this is sacred and take them home.
After having dinner, mikoshi carriers are full-charged. Now Mikoshi will go all around the village. Until 10 o´clock in the night when the Mikoshi goes back to the local shrine, carriers walk powerfully, sometimes they shake they shake the heavy Mikoshi, sometimes they shout spiritedly. With the sound of tambours, the energy is getting higher and higher as if they are in a trance. In this modern era, they have a contract between the police and have to finish by 10 O´clock in the night due to the traffic control in the motorway. But in the old time they rested Mikoshi on the gates of the railroad crossing and kept carrying it until the next morning. What a power they had. This year, they came back 10:02 in the night.
All family members and relatives come for this day. However depopulation problem is severe in this village too and every year there are less young people who can carry Mikoshi. So anyone who wants to carry Mikoshi or who wants to help the preparation of the festival; making tambour sticks, practicing tambours, building scaffold and dismount them, please visit this village next summer!