Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Higashinda Danjiri Festival

The Higashinda Danjiri Matsuri (festival) is held every year in our neighborhood during Golden Week.  This festival takes place over two days at a nearby shrine and throughout the streets.

Each of the different neighborhoods within the Higashinda area have their own guild, which is in charge of their area's danjiri (cart). This festival consists of over 15 different danjiri's, each elaborately decorated by their own members. A taiko (drum) and kane (bell) are placed inside and musicians are chosen to sit and play them. Other men (yes, only men can be on the cart itself) are selected to ride atop and to pull the cart throughout the streets. All of the people will shout and yell a chant, similar to "heave ho!" as they move the danjiri.

Matt, Sami and I went to the shrine to watch the "kickoff" of the festival.

The danjiris were all lined up and then paraded into the shrine grounds one by one, each doing their own presentation.
Here is a little video clip from the shrine ceremony.

After each of the groups have gone, while the people pulling and riding on them take a bit of a break, you can walk around and take a peek of the danjiris.  We were lucky and one of the people let Sami sit up on the danjiri. It was very exciting for her, as many Japanese people also stopped to take pictures of the gaijin on the danjiri.
After this little ceremony the danjiris are pulled up and down the mountainside throughout the different neighborhoods. They came past our house both during the day and at night. Watching them pull these carts up the hills is amazing.
Some of the people even posed for me while pulling the danjiri.
Honestly, we have no clue what the are doing and why they are doing what they do, but it is pretty cool to watch.

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