October 15, 2010

Are Town People Cerebrating Good Harvest of Rice?

This is a big town at the foot of the mountains.

Zoom in,  you will find the town people in happi coats carrying portable shrines on their shoulders saying "Wasshoi, Wasshoi!" They are holding the autumn festival.

There is another autumn festival.  The town people are drawing a float decorated with elaborative wooden carvings and beautifully embroidered cloths. Now, the float is going to turn a street corner and people are trying to take a balance.
On the day in the town,  merry sounds of  drums and whistles are everywhere and boost the festive mood.

 Autumn is the season of the rice harvest . And  people hold the festivals to give thanks to Shinto deities for good rice harvest. So in October, countless autumn festivals are held all over Japan.

The rice is more than a staple food in Japan. It has been deeply connected to our daily life and embedded in Japanese culture or religion.  But, there is no paddy fields in or around the town. I wonder if people or children know the reason why they have autumn festivals at this time of year.

Maybe autumn festivals have survived as legacy or customs, and given local people a great fun and help strengthen the ties of the communities.


  1. In your side bar I can see pine cones which are tied to the red cloth.
    What implication do they have?

  2. I live in a nice and quiet residential area, but about ten minutes' walk takes me to the paddies, fields, and woods. Children in this school district would know the meaning of autumn festivals. Some of them actively participate in a shrine's festival pulling the rope of a floats and making cheerful shouts.

    Autumn Festivals, other seasonal events, or rituals on our passage of life remind me that shrines are still center of the local community. Making preparations for the festivals and having fun together would tie people to our neighbors.

  3. haricot,

    These pine cones tied to the red cloth can be seen everywhere in Naramachi. They are hanging from the eaves.

    As Naramachi is an old and not planed town, the roads are very narrow. The cars are running on the roads almost touching the pine cones.

    The pine cones let the drivers know the edge of the roads and tell them to drive very carefully.

    They also serve as the charms against evils.

    Naramachi is my favorit and I'd like to write about it.

  4. Stardust,

    Thank you for your information.

    I took these pictures with my cell-phone in Kobe where my son lives on the 8th floor of an apartment. I satyed there for a few days. This area is close to the station and very convenient but surrounded by big and buzy roads. When I saw people holding the protable shrines and pulling the float, I was really very surprised as no paddy fields around the town at all.

    I hope the children in this town know the reason of the autum festivals like the children in Nara.

  5. I see! I've seen many monkey- shaped ones( look like men) as the charms in Nara-machi, but I've never noticed these cones.
    It is supposed that If the monkeys would touch the cars, it makes us feel too lurid, so people must replaced them by the cones.
    It is a nice idea.

    I like Nara- machi, too. It has changed little by little with innovative ideas, but the settled atmosphere has never been shaded.

  6. So, a big town at the foot of mountains is Kobe? Now that I've learned it, the tall building in the first picture must be Mikage Tower Residence, 47-storey building. My hometown is Mikage, and during GW, Mikage Danjiri/Float Festival is held. Danjiris which belong to some shrines of Mikage congregate and make a procession. I hear as many as 30 danjiris gathered to commemorate the 60th governance of Higashinada ward on October 10th this year. Is that the one you saw?

  7. haricot,

    I'm afraid the harmonious scenic beauy of Naramachi is in danger. Even though Naramachi, including 45 small towns, was designated as the landscape preservation area in 1994, the local regulations are not strong enoug to protect its beauty. The regulations can't issue the fine nor give punishment to those people who break the regulations. The local government seems to leave many issues to people's morality, efforts and so on.

    But still people in Naramchi have strong ties and a sense of belonging, and it helps keep tradition and old customs.

  8. Stardust,

    Thanks! Oh,I love MIkage Danjiri Festival and saw this Utube. http://www.woopie.jp/video/watch/033b672eb6dba956
    The parades of the floats are just dynamic and masculine. Very interesting are elaborative wooden curvings which are likely to dipict local legends or imaginary animals.

    Yes, I saw the portable shrines procession from the 8th floor and the float near the station. They said, the second one、the float, was the festival for 八幡さま―Hachiman Shrine.
    I saw them on October 10th in Nada Ward, Kobe.

    I was going to see the biggest autumn festival in Japan. The festival,神嘗祭 meaning God Eat Festval, is held annually in Ise Grand Shrine in the middle of October, this year on 15th and 16th October. But things didn't allow me to go to Ise.


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