Tag Archives: monzen-nakacho

Water-throwing Festival

20 Aug

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.

In 2008, I wrote a post about the festival with many photos and videos that my wife took. (Click here to read it.)

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.


Also, the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department sprayed us with fire hoses!

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!

The 神輿 (portable shrine) from the earthquake stricken area of Tohoku, Japan.

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下) at the festival! 

The Emperor and Empress of Japan (天皇皇后両陛下).

Were you one of the estimated 50,000 spectators at this festival? Were you, like me, one of the 3,000 participants?


Does your country have a festival anything like this?

VJ Day

15 Aug

Today is 「終戦記念日」 (lit. “Anniversary of the end of the war”), or, as it’s referred to in the West, VJ Day.

So today is the 65th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Unfortunately it’s not the anniversary of war completely.

I’m not going to write a lot of this today because last year I wrote a post about the 64th anniversary that included an English translation of part of the Japanese Emperor’s speech to the people of Japan (click here to read it).

And the year before, I wrote a post about the 63rd anniversary that explained a bit about 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) and it’s relevance to this day. (click here to read that post).

This year 「終戦記念日」 (VJ Day) is on a Sunday (today), so I’m sure 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) was crowded today.

**

Also today was the last day of this year’s 「深川八幡祭り」 (Fukagawa Hachiman Festival)…also called the 「水かけ祭り」 (“Water Tossing Festival“) because people watching the festival throw water on the people carrying the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines). Even firefighters hose them down.

Two years ago I participated in this festival by helping to carry a 神輿 (portable shrine).

It was fun…but carrying that heavy thing all day and also tossing it up and catching it many times…my arms and legs were aching the next day!

This festival occurs every August in the 門前仲町 (Monzen-Nakachou) area of Tokyo…but the big main festival only occurs every three years.

When I participated two years ago it was a “big, main festival”…and next year when the big festival is scheduled again, I am invited to join again.

Click here to see photos and videos of this festival from two years ago when I was a member of one of the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines) teams.

深川八幡祭り

18 Aug

Yesterday was the day for the annual 深川八幡祭り (Fukagawa-Hachiman Festival).
Not only that, it was also the big, full festival that occurs every three years!

You can read a little more about this festival on my Festivals page by Clicking here.

I didn’t mention it before but two years ago I was invited to participate in this year’s festival.

I carried a 神輿 (portable shrine) in this festival nine years ago…and the next day, I swore that I’d never do it again!
It was a unique, fun experience…but my body ached so bad that I decided that I only wanted to experience 神輿 (portable shrine) festivals as a spectator from then on.

But carrying a 神輿 (portable shrine) can be compared to drinking in excess…you enjoy it while you’re doing it, but the next day you’re in pain and tell yourself that you’ll never do that again. But when the memory of the pain fades, you’ll happily agree to join in again!

That’s what happened in 2006 when I was invited to join in the 2008 festival. I gladly agreed.
I’m not saying that I regret my decision. Not at all.
My muscles ache…but it’s not so bad. And I really enjoyed it.

At the end of yesterday’s festival, I was invited to join in the next big, full version of the festival again in 2011! I agreed again.

Anyways, yesterday, I got to the meeting place at 7:30AM and changed into the clothes worn by 神輿 (portable shrine) carriers.
This festival is centuries old and little has changed…including the clothes.

There are over 50 神輿 (portable shrine) carried by different groups in this festival. Each group wears a different 反転 (light jacket).

At 8:00 our leader gave us a few encouraging words and then we picked up our 神輿 (portable shrine) and it began!

Each group has about 70 people (I’d estimate) and only 30 or so can fit around the 神輿 (portable shrine) at a time. So the remaining people who aren’t actually carrying it follow behind and change out with the carriers as they become tired.

What makes this festival different from most 神輿 (portable shrine) festivals is that the people in the crowd throw water on the people carrying the 神輿 (portable shrines)!

Many people stand in trucks with the beds full of water and use buckets to throw the water, some people use garden hoses…and the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department was there—spraying us with fire hoses!
We got soaked!

At noon, we put the 神輿 (portable shrine) down and all of us (nearly 4000 people, I guess) were given お弁当 (Japanese box lunches).

At that point, we were pretty sore…and cold. Usually getting soaked is a blessing for the people carrying the 神輿 (portable shrines) at this festival since August in Tokyo is sweltering. And it has been extremely hot every day this month…but the day before this festival, there was a storm in Tokyo and I guess it brought a bit of a cold-front. In addition, it was overcast all day.
But we weren’t done yet…only halfway.

After lunch, it began to lightly rain. Noone would’ve noticed since we were already very wet. But that didn’t make the weather any warmer.

At the end, we didn’t just put the 神輿 (portable shrine) away. It was done extravagantly! Turning around and around, throwing it up and catching it. 神輿 (portable shrine) aren’t light…about 2 tons!) with lots of water being sprayed at us!
It was quite a show.

I enjoyed it alot! And I’ll be back for more in 2011!

It was over at 5:30PM…over nine hours! We were given some beer and we had a toast to our success.

Since I was busy carrying the 神輿 (portable shrine) and getting soaked, my wife took all of the photos and videos!
She took some excellent pictures and videos! Better than I do.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the photos of my 神輿 (portable shrine) group:

[rockyou id=120554167]

And here are twelve (!) videos that she took:

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