Saturday, September 14, 2013

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Yesterday I went to the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri. Basically, it's a festival where various neighborhoods run their own portable shrine (Danjiri) through the town. The Danjiri are pulled by often hundreds of members of the neighborhood all wearing their guild's "happi" coat. Most of the time the Danjiri are pulled slowly, but at specific locations, often corners, the Danjiri stops, and after waiting for a few moments, the musicians change their beat and everyone tries to pull the shrine as fast as possible around the corner as the individuals on the roof jump around. Even I got caught up in the excitement, it really was quite the spectacle. The Kishiwada festival is a huge attraction and there are many traditional as well as contemporary food vendors scattered throughout the streets. Just like in America, most of the food was overpriced, but hey, it's a festival!

I chose this photo, not because it's especially aesthetically pleasing, but because I think it gives a good sense of what the festival is actually like. In the middle of a modern city, hundreds of individuals in uniform pull these traditional shrines through the streets while thousands of plain-clothed Japanese watch.

I'm not sure but I think there were 20 or so Danjiri rolling around the city. It was really cool to see just how important traditions like this are to Japanese people. I admit I felt a bit left out as there are few things with such deep history in American culture. I felt a bit out of place until a clearly drunk man with a plate of cups of sake offered me one and seemed overjoyed when I accepted. I think a good time was had by all.

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