Sunday, April 29

Kami Matsuri

A neighborhood in waiting.

Last weekend Aya and I went to a festival in the town of my Little Mountain School. Emphasis on "Little." So you know the festival was little too, but wonderful in its smallness.

First was some eats at Hara-san's house, with her sons and their young families. The oldest of the grandchildren that was there was one of my Kami-babies, a new 3nensei. The youngest were a set of 18 month-old twins, boy and girl, which certainly helped for the warming up. If you don't have anything to say to the adults, you can always direct your attention to the babies. Let it be known that the kids weren't kidding when they thought Laura was a year old when she was only 2 months. These little guys were walking and starting to talk, and size-wise looked less than a year.

Festival decorations and spring flowers
Down off the mountain those flowers were already done blooming.

Aaanyway, the whole point of the festival was some sort of Battle of the Boroughs, that is, two sections of the town whip out their mikoshi and duke it out.


The small neighborhood mikoshi arrives, borne by a rowdy group of men. The one you see dashing off to the right was charging into the genkans (entryways) of people's houses, looking for gifts of money. Hara-san presented him with two envelopes at the door. But he still charged in anyway. I think he was one of the guys who came by later to eat.

The small mikoshi moves by.

The neighborhood's big mikoshi makes its way down the street, "pulled" by several small children, all sporting their tiny happis.

Some of my Kami-babies follow the mikoshi taking turns playing the taiko mounted on the back.

The women of the neighborhood participate in a circle dance.
Early on there was a small group of young men in the middle, leading the dance. I joined at this point, excitedly donning a happi. A few dances later and I was back behind the camera.

The famous walking sunflower.
When the dances finished we headed over to the shrine for the rest of the activities.

The "blue team" bangs out a beat on their taiko drums.
They were waiting over by the shrine for the red group to arrive.

A "battle" soon ensued.

The two rivaling neighborhoods took their battle up onto the shrine grounds, each trying to push the other one back.

Once the battle had been settled (did anyone win?) the big mikoshi were parked side-by-side for a giant round of double taiko. Anyone and everyone was free to join in. I didn't.

Then the shrine maidens (four JHS girls from the town) came out and began a ceremony followed by a dance.
These two are new 3nensei. They look so pretty!

The shrine maidens before the second part of their presentation.

I'm so glad I went to the festival. Many of the kids were shy about talking to me (all 3nensei girls aside - last year's that is), as they were more worried about their out-of-school socializing.
I was so happy to be able to participate in this small-town festival in a town that I care so much about.


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