Warning - this is a really long post....
The Nada Fighting Festival was last weekend. Seven fishing villages from the old days take their yatais (shrines) and perform and crash them against each other. This also eliminates all evil spirits. I had some difficulty understanding the meaning and purpose of some of it but it was very, very, very exciting! Each village has it's own color. Tickets are very difficult to get. There is a lottery for the tickets. We were very lucky because the City of Himeji gave us tickets in a prime location and provided lunch. We were there from 10am-2pm and then we were let loose for the rest of the day. We only started drinking at 10am this time, a much later start than the previous weekend.
We had seats in the near a shinto shrine. Each yatai group paraded in front of us. These shrines weigh 1 ton with at least 50 people holding them up. The yatais are beautiful. There are 4 people sitting in each yatai continually drumming. These yatais were too beautiful and expensive to be used for fighting,
The seating area was really interesting. There were no seats, it was just a flat area with 4 pillows for everyone to sit and eat, picnic style.
There are other and less decorative yatais that are used for fighting. There are no winners or losers with the fighting yatais, it's just for fun. Many people get hurt each year from getting crushed or knocked into by a yatai. Sometimes people die at this festival. It's just a crazy crowd of drinking, macho men having a great time. It's really cool and interesting and wild!!!!
This is what the men wear. My friend Alexsis commented, "I have never seen so many butt cheeks in my life!"
We met the mayor of Himeji. He is a former college professor and was very nice. He's the one with the multi-colored scarf. Since he's the mayor he can't choose any specific team color.
We were also located near a very famous former tennis player now sports anchor, Mr. Matsuoka. The crowd went crazy for him everytime they paraded by him.
I posed with an assemblyman and I was sitting next to "the 38th Queens of Himeji" - 3 gorgeous women who are ambassadors of Himeji.
This is my boss, Iizuka-Sensei.
This is my mentor/advisor, Kimura-Sensei from my Junior High School. She stopped by to say hello.
After the parade and some yatai fights, we had another gorgeous bento lunch!
The yatais were carried from the shrine to a mountain about 10 minutes away. They are paraded at the bottom, between 2 mountains that thousands of people are sitting on and watching. Then the yatais are carried up one of the mountains and some more fighting occurs. The dragon dance or shishimai was also performed. It really was a fabulous spectacle!!!
I was also invited by my elementary school teacher contact, Murakami-Sensei, to sit with her family. We got together and they gave me another bento lunch and invited me to their home which is around the corner from the festival. They are so kind! They dropped me and my friend, Maki at the train station so I could pick up my bike. I didn't get home until 10pm, so it was a long day.
By the way, I got cell phones for me and Jules. Or as some people call them "handy phones". It was very helpful at the festival when my friends, Maki, Mac and my elementary school teacher wanted to meet up.
I need to figure out how to post photo albums, I have so many photos to share!!! Every time I go to an event I take at least 2-300 pictures! Too many!
Julian will be here tonight. There is another huge festival this weekend, the 2nd largest in the area, but some say it's better than the one I attended last weekend. So, I would like to take him to the festival, if he's up for it. It's the last fall yatai festival of the season. I want him to experience the craziness and fun of Japan. I can't wait to see him. I hope he likes it here as much as I do!!