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07 June 2009 @ 07:55 pm
OMG festivals  
softlykarou and I went to a festival yesterday in Hiroshima City called Tokasan. It's pretty big, but we didn't stay for very long. The main reason its famous is that it starts the yukata-wearing season for festivals in Japan. softlykarou got a yukata a few months ago, and she's been waiting a long time to wear it (and has been dreaming to wear for since she was a child), so she was super excited. The shop where we bought it put it on for her for free, even though there was a waiting list, which was very kind of them to do so. We wandered around, ate some festival food, and went to the shrine the festival is named after that you're traditionally supposed to go to and pray (though I don't know what you're supposed to pray for). Most of the stuff was happening in the evening, which we weren't staying for, so we missed the dancing and so on. It was still a lot of fun, though. Maybe next year.

Today, Kaminaka-san invited us to Mibu no Hanadaue, a festival that has taken place in Chiyoda (formerly called Mibu, hence the name) for over 500 years. There was the usual assortment of festival food available, but we ate udon in a hundred-year-old restaurant on the other side of Chiyoda and then saw the procession of the bulls (used to smooth down the mud in the rice field) and the dancers and drummers (who perform the actual planting). Apparently, the ceremony's purpose is to alert Sanbai-san, the local mountain god who is also the god of rice planting, that its time to come down off the mountain and help ensure a good crop for the year.[1] The main festival involves a rice field which is ceremonially planted to the beat of drums by local women. It was pretty neat, and we took a bunch of pictures.

We also kept getting our picture taken by people, presumably because we're foreigners coming to Chiyoda's famous UNESCO-recognized cultural treasure (500 years old, remember?), which was kind of neat, but a little weird too. And we found a part of Chiyoda with shops and restaurants we didn't know existed. We'll have to check it out some time.

[1]: The best part of the speeches during the ceremony was when the announcer said: "Sanbai-san, ganbatte kudasai." Roughly, "Sanbai, please do your best (to make the rice a good crop)."
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