Now, it is the highest of summer in Japan, that festivals (MATSURIs) are being held here and there.
Of all MATSURIs, a Shinto MATSURI is an important religious event for worship.
During this event, the Divinity(s) who resides usually in each local shrine makes a tour of the area once a year, taking a ride on a portable shrine called “MIKOSHI”.
Shinto followers carry it on their shoulders and parade throughout the area wishing the Divinity protects the people and their farms from epidemics or natural disasters and brings a good harvest.
For my local shrine “KITSUREGAWA shrine” too, a MATSURI was held recently.
In this shrine, a couple of Divinities are enshrined, SUSANOH (mentioned once in the past article) and his wife KUSHINADA-HIME.
As mentioned in that article, SUSANOH is also called “GOZU-TENNO (ox-head heavenly king)” and famous for having killed the evil “YAMATA-NO-OROCHI (an eight-forked serpent)”.
He killed this giant snake because his future wife KUSHINADA-HIME was about to be devoured by the snake, according to the oldest Japanese mythology, “KOJIKI”.
In this MATSURI called “ KITSUREGAWA TENNOH-SAI” which comes from GOZU-TENNOH mentioned above, “HANA-YATAI (a float decorated with flowers)” parades through the town.
Men in the same YUKATA (see here about YUKATA!) and see-through type “HAORI (a jacket for KIMONO) with KAMONs (family crest, see here about KAMON!) on the both sides of the chest, sleeves and on the back) lead the float having CHO-CHINs (Japanese paper lanterns) in their hands.
Children and other adults pull ropes to move the float following these men in YUKATA.
In addition to the HANA-YATAI, a Japanese drum group called “KUBŌ TAIKO” should be mentioned for this event.
This area, KITSUREGAWA town, is the place where an ancient feudal warrior TAKAUJI ASHIKAGA was active and who eventually became an adviser of then Shogun during the EDO period.
In order to transmit his honor to posterity, in October 2010, this drum group was started for commemoration.
Their performance is simply overwhelming when you listen to it nearby. There will be no Japanese who doesn’t get excited listening to this soulful sounds.
Talking about MIKOSHI mentioned above, with “ABARE-MIKOSHI”, this event reaches its climax at around 10PM.
“ABARE” means powerful or “act up”, so the MIKOSHI bearers consisting of brave and stout men run up approximately 100-steps staircase of the shrine all in one go, which is a moment with full of tension and is absolutely spectacular!
With such a royal and grand scale festival, the Divinities should have been satisfied and returned to their home.
A Shinto Matsuri is one of the necessary events for Japanese people not to forget the grateful feelings to the nature and Divinities.
“Yamato Gokoro” is contained here too, the gratitude toward invisible entities.
(Thank you for all who supported this summer’s KITSUREGAWA NATSU-MATURI!)