Saturday, June 26, 2010
On a recent Japanese TV program detailing the 20 Most Famous Festivals in all of Japan, Hamochi Matsuri (festival) was the only one chosen from Niigata prefecture.
We're kind of a big deal! Here are some images from my first Hamochi Festival.
This is an Ojishi (lion). 8 or so guys climb under the cloth covering and one holds the huge, wooden lion head as they snake their way across town. I actually go to go inside it and participate for a bit. It was really fun and totally unexpected.
They barrel into the shops and homes in town and clap the mouth of the huge wooden lion head to scare away evil spirits.
This is tsuburosashi! It is a central feature of Hamochi Festival. It is a fertility dance (I bet you were wondering) that is famous even within Japan. Having just completed rice planting, it is very timely dance for a community that is constituted largely of farmers. Ok, not one joke about the...the...next picture please!
The Sado Okesa is a traditional folk dance that is done ALL THE TIME on Sado. It is quite graceful and it looks very "Japanese". Even my youngest students can do this start to finish.
An Omikoshi (portable shrine) They lift this huge wooden shrine on long planks with their shoulders and carry it around town. And yes, that person is standing on top of it. I've done this once before in Tokyo, and I can tell you that it's really fun but not for anyone with stiff shoulders.
This is one of the actors in the Noh (pronounced 'No') that was performed the night of the festival. Noh is a masked stage performance that has a rich history on Sado.
This is the traditional Noh Stage.