Sunday, September 23, 2007

Sara- Hachimangu Festival

Patrick and I went to the Hachimangu festival on September 15th. The festival is for three days, from the 14th to the 16th. The 16th was also a national holiday (The day would roughly translate to 'Respect the Elderly day'.) so it was a day off for everyone.

Hachimangu Festival is the festival of Hachimangu Shrine which is of the Shinto religion. (Shinto-shrines, Buddhism-temples)
Unfortunately I don't have any information about the festival but it was very fun to go to and beautiful to watch. They have an evening parade of floats down the main street, and on the 16th, they had an archery on horseback ritual performance. Unfortunately, I couldn't figure out the time for it and missed that but hopefully I will see it next year and post about it. The archery is called Yabusame and it is a very traditional and time honored practice.

Here are some pictures that I took.

The floats are very elaborate and you can see the male kabuki like figures in the front and the women figures were on the back of the floats.

The large orange gate way is called a Torii and it is the gate way for all Shinto shrines.

Inside the grounds of the shrine, there are many food and game vendors. As you can see, you have the typical cotton candy vendors, but you also have game booths such as 'Kingyosukui' which translates to 'Goldfish scoop'. You get to scoop up live goldfish and you can keep the ones that you catch. If you have the bad luck of not getting any, you usually get to keep one. Unfortunately, I couldn't take a picture of such a booth, but there's also the 'kujibiki' booths where you pay to get a scrap of paper with a number. Then you get the prize according to the number.
There are also food booths so Patrick and I had dinner there by going around and trying out different foods. Here's a yakitori booth (shishkabobs-usually chicken).
As you can see, there were a lot of people there, but that's only half of the booths and people at the shrine.

At the shrine, there are many places to pray. This is a little shrine but I'm not sure to what god it is dedicated to. Then there were the Zodiac shrines which are the tiny round stones that are hollow inside. Inside you would see the figures of each zodiac animal. Patrick and I went to see the Rat shrine.
Then this is Hachimangu. It is very big and perhaps you can not see, but there are long thick ropes that hang down. These ropes have bells attached to the top and you throw in some money into a collection box, then ring the bell, clap your hands three times and pray or make a wish to the gods.
There were also dancers at the shrine.

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