Friday, May 30

Kami Matsuri 2008

Hara-san's grandkids hang out in the street waiting for the mikoshi.

What's up y'all? I'm takin' it back to 2008. April 19, 2008, that is, from the festival up in the town of my favorite ever school. Even though I haven't been the ALT there in two years, Hara-san, the tea lady, still invited me to come and join her family for the festival, as she did last year. Without hesitation I went, of course, proud of myself for being able to find her house on my own! I made a quick stop first for goheimochi-by-the-station.

Lantern in front of Hara-san's house.

Just driving up there puts a giggle of joy in my throat, so I was super happy by the time I got to Hara-san's house. I was a little nervous about being alone (no Aya-sensei to help translate when the going got tough), but I did fine, and had a great time.

The neighborhood mikoshi (portable shrine), borne by a bunch of drunk men, pushes its way to the door of a neighbor.

We first had dinner of sushi, sandwiches, veggies, etc. under the kotatsu (in spite of the sweating I was already doing) and the men did their best to get liquored up.

Soon it was time for the mikoshi to arrive, borne by a group of inebriated men running to and fro in the street looking for donations from the neighbors. Hara-san handed them an envelope of money and a case of beer.

Going to hook up with the float.

A little while later the float came by, "drawn" by the neigborhood toddlers and followed up by the older kids playing taiko at the rear.

The chuugakusei keeping the beat.
Hi, babies!

Sporting my borrowed happi in front of Hara-san's house. I don't know from whence the happi came, but same as last year, it came. Thanks Hara-tachi!

Two would-be dancers waiting for the dancing to start in front of the neighborhood float.

Once it got dark, Hara-san and I went to join the dance circle. It's the same selection of group dances (something along the lines of line dancing, but to a Japanese beat, with Japanese moves... and in a circle). It took me a few rounds to remember the moves again, but no matter. The experience was the grand thing.

The two mikoshi from two "rival" areas of town battle it out on the shrine grounds.

When the music ended, it was off to the shrine with us. A few small stands were set up with festival food and games and folks were just milling about waiting for the mikoshi fight to begin.

Let the taiko begin!
Red and blue alike circle 'round to play a part of the beat.

I wish I could tell you who won this year... Once the sparring was over, the floats came up and the taiko circle began. This is my favorite part of any festival - all kinds of folks of all ages circling round and round and playing whatever part of the song they're up to when they get to the drum. I wish, for the life of me, that I could understand and learn the songs so that I could play too...


U-Dai-chan and Akira hook it up Kami-Style.

The one-foot hop to the drum.

Young shrine-maidens-for-a-night wait for their ceremony to begin.

Soon after that I headed home, so I missed the dance of the shrine girls, but Good Times were had and all in all it was a lovely evening in my LMS town. How couldn't it be?


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