I am a member of group that carries a two-ton 神輿 (portable shrine) every three years in the 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).
This festival occurs in Tokyo on the third weekend of August. The festival is held every year…but the big, main festival is only every three years.
It was last held in August 2008 and was due again in August 2011 (last year)…but after the 2011 March 11th earthquake in the Tohoku area of Japan, the 2011 festival was postponed a year.
So, it was held eight days ago (on 2012 August 12th) and will be next held in 2015.
Anyways, this festival is nicknamed the 「水掛け祭り」 (“Water-tossing Festival”) because all along the 6km (3.8 mile) course, people vigorously throw water on the people carrying the portable shrines.
When we “carry” the 神輿(portable shrines), we don’t simply “carry” them…the teams often turns them around and around…and also toss them up and catch them!
From start to finish, it’s a ten-hour day! I was very sore and tired the next day…but it was fun.
One big thing that made this year’s different from previous years was that a team from the earthquake-stricken area of Tohoku joined the festival…and the Emperor and Empress of Japan came to watch!
Were you one of the estimated 50,000 spectators at this festival? Were you, like me, one of the 3,000 participants?