Sunday, November 19, 2006

Oshio and Nada Matsuris

When my brother, Marc, visited in October, we went to three matsuris. I already wrote about our local Shinzaiki Fall Festival. We also went to Oshio Matsuri and Nada Fighting Festival.

The Oshio Matsuri is famous for their Shishimai Dances or Lion Dance. There were seven communities with their own shrines and lion dances. The lion costumes were amazing because they have hair that flies everywhere as the people dance in the costumes, so there is a lot of movement and excitement. There were several dancers and they would all take turns wearing the costume. They were able to change quickly and seamlessly between dancers. They were all young guys that had a lot of energy and strength.
The people carrying this shrine were having a lot of trouble. They kept having to put it down and one side would drop more quickly than the other side because it was just so heavy. I can't imagine carrying these shrines for 2 or 3 days in a row.On the way home, we had a few drinks on the train. Public drinking is ok in Japan. I had been freaking out before this picture because this was my first time just openly drinking on a local train. Of course it's no big deal in Japan, but it still blew my mind. Here I am with Minako, and Maya. They are so cool!
The very next day, we went to the Nada Fighting Festival. I went to this festival last year and sat with many of the big wigs of Himeji. This year, we went with our friend, Masae and her family. They invited us to go with her husband's coworkers and clients. We had an amazing lunch at his client's house.
Instead of being on the stands watching from afar, we were in the middle of the festival by the shrine. There are seven communities in this festival as well.
These are the fighting shrines. They are not as ornate as the shrines people carry around the neighborhood. We were pretty close to the action. It was a bit scary because these things topple over and they are big. People get hurt every year and sometimes die.

Afterwards, we went to the mountain and had more food and watched from the top of the mountain. There were thousands of people.

I love this picture of Masae and her kids. They are so wonderful!

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