Aka: Yosakoi Yume Matsuri. I’m not sure what Yosakoi means, it’s perhaps a local Nagoya word. It’s a mini version of the Nagoya Dance Festival (‘domatsuri’) held in September each year. The only thing that makes this stand out is that one of the dance teams wore a kimono costume that featured a waratah (pictured below), an Australian flower, and so I thought I should blog this, more to the benefit of the Japan-Australia blog (hi John).
Tag Archive for matsuri
A drunken rider takes a drunken horse up a drunken hill. If they make it up and over a mound, then this heralds a good rice harvest later in the year. After the event the local farmers can begin planting their rice. About 120,000 people annually go to see this event, which dates back hundreds of years (I don’t know how many, I’m afraid). Local animal rights groups complain about the event and the stress it causes to the horses, and the participation of school-aged teenagers as well. The event has changed some features, including lowering the height of the mound / obstacle on top of the hill, and reducing the amount of alcohol the horses (and riders) are given. I’m not sure of the details, but it seems that this year the main change was the quantity of alcohol, but the mound seems be about the same as usual (though last years was low). Images will be added to this Tado Horse Festival portfolio in the coming days.
The mound atop the hill is broken to make it easier for the horse to get over.
A horse running up to the mound. The horse gets about a 100 meter run up.
This Photo of the Week is for the upcoming Nagoya fertility festival, held at Tagata annually on 15th March. The festival promotes having babies and families, and it’s also a place where young single people can pray that they find a husband or wife in the coming year. In a Catholic western tradition, all thought of sex is considered a sin, but oriental religions do not consider sex a problem, and so there is no shame or sense of sin associated in having such festivals. The public parading of a phallus is not a problem. Families bathe together, and everyone know what all the bits are, so there’s nothing to teeter about. So, without further ado, here’s a giant wooden cock.
The Naked Man Festival video was just uploaded to YouTube. Warning, the sound track might be a little loud…
The first photos from Nagoya’s Naked Man Festival. More will be available at my agent’s website and my own portfolio. This event was held as snow from the previous two days was still fresh and melting, so of course the participants need to be rolling drunk to do this, which means some fall over and scrap themselves on the ground. Also, a late afternoon cold wind whipped up so the ambulance crews arrived, perhaps to treat those suffering hypothermia.The Naked Man Festival (hadaka matsuri) is an annual event that began in the year 767ad, in the Nara Period. The event is held to removed bad luck and bestow good luck on the people. In the past, this event has attracted 180,000 spectators and 12,000 (naked) male participants.
The event features a number of motifs, including teams based on township, giving gifts to the Kounomiya shrine, being drunk on sake, climbing bamboo poles, giving strips of cloth to spectators (mainly to women), and more. The gifts that are given to the shrine include a tuna, a barrel of sake, banners and long bamboo poles. For the first time visitor the bamboo poles seem to be the most important part. The teams carry all of these things, and stop along the way to throw their bamboo pole up, erecting it, and someone will climb it. It seems that each town’s bamboo poles are different. I guess that the more support from the town equates to a bigger and better bamboo pole. These poles are wrapped in cloth and lashed with rice-hemp rope. The event is held according the the lunar calendar at about the second weekend after the Lunar New Year. More information can be found at the English Wikipedia site.
More information from a blog post for the 2009 event:
The Naked Man Festival (Hadaka Matsuri) is an annual even held at Kounomiya, just outside of Nagoya City in central Japan. It’s held in the depths of winter and is a weekend-long event. The part that the public sees (and is shown in my portfolios) is held in the afternoon. The event date varies from year to year, according to the Chinese lunar calendar, but is held during the lunar New Year.
It began over 1,200 years ago, in the year 767, when Nara was the capital of Japan. At that time, there were plagues affecting the Japanese people, so Emperor Shotoku ordered special prayers to be said nation wide. The governor of Owari Province (now Aichi Prefecture) asked the shrine at Kounomiya to do something about this, and to remove the bad luck. So, the Naked Man Festival, held in the coldest time in winter was formulated.
This POTW is of the Kounomiya Naked Man Festival, an annual event held just after the Lunar New Year, a calendar that Japan used to follow until the post war years. It’s not often I post an image from my agents website, but it’s there, and more information on the history is on this blog.
Ishidori is the Stone-bringing Festival, an annual Shinto event held on the first weekend of August. It is reputed to be the loudest such festival in Japan. It is not well known, but a very lively festival, and perhaps a best-kept festival secret. The festival apparently dates back to over 300 years, and involves more than 30 portable shrines representing each of the wards (or towns) within Kuwana City. Photos for this festival are being processed and should be available soon at Asia Photo Connection.
In the mean time, here’s the preview.
The Kuwana City Stone Bringing Festival, aka Ishidori, is on this weekend. This fantastic festival will be attended by yours truly. If you require advance photos please refer to the 2010 gallery shown below.
There’s a lot coming up in the coming hot & humid months.
- Nagoya Sumo Tournament, 10th to 24th July.
- Local town summer festivals begin (‘matsuri’).
- Fireworks season begins (‘hanami’).
- Yoyama Festival in Kyoto, 15th & 16th July.
- Kuwana City Stone-bringing Festival (Kuwana Ishidoria, the loudest festival in Japan), 3rd & 4th Aug.
- Word Cosplay competition, 3rd & 4th Aug.
- Nagoya Dance Festival (Nagoya Domatsuri), 26th to 28th Aug.
I’m quite busy and so I need to prioritise my schedule. Consequently, there’s no guarantee that I can go to these unless my services are pre-arranged.
The Tagata Fertility Festival, Tagata Penis Festival, or Tagata Honen Matsuri is the festival that is becoming famous for the large wooden penis that is paraded around a town. It isn’t a celebration of immaturity or pervertedness at all, as many Westerners might assume. It is actually a ceremony to ask for a rich crop harvest, and the phallus is made of fresh cypress pine each year, to symbolise newness, freshness, and fertility.
A penis? From my time in South Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, I have come to realise some fundamental differences between an Anglo-Western culture (prominent in Britain, North America and Australia) and the Far Eastern countries: we have Catholicism and they have Confucianism and Taoism. This might not be ground breaking news, but it is particularly relevant in understanding why a Japanese Shrine can have a fertility festival in which families and children will attend to the order of 100, 000 attendees annually, but you will not see a phallus nor 100,000 people at a Catholic church. The main fundamental difference is that in Catholicism anything related to sex is considered a sin, and we Westerners must feel guilty about it. However, the Far Eastern countries don’t have this burden of shame, and so they are happy to celebrate and pray for a good harvest, fertility, and use a phallic symbol as well.
So who attended? To my estimation, it seems that the number of people to crowd at Tagata Shrine was far less than 100,000 people (I have seen crowds of 100,000 people and more at other religious festivals in Japan). But this shortfall shouldn’t be surprising; this festival was on the first Tuesday after the 11 March, magnitude 9.0 Tohoku-Kanto Earthquake.
In the winter months the wooden phallus is carved by master craftsmen using traditional techniques, and wearing purified clothing. On the day, it is strapped to a saloon and put on display. Here is a great photo opportunity, and there’s never a shortage of happy old men to encourage any lady (of any age) to pose by the big penis. In the early afternoon the phallus is then paraded very slowly through the town. Also paraded are smaller penises, and bamboo trees with white and red-polka dot ribbons. I still need to find out what the ribbons mean, but I guess it’s more about human fertility than crop fertility.