Mikoshi Matsuri – The Final Summer Festival

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With the end of summer comes the last summer festival: mikoshi matsuri. This fabulous festival brings the entire community together for food, games, and traditional Shinto worship and displays of camaraderie. It was a two-day event on September 10th and 11th. So, with that, it’s time to learn some vocabulary for this post!

祭(り)(matsuri) = festival

神輿 (mikoshi) = divine palanquin/portable Shinto shrine

金魚掬い(kingyo sukui) = goldfish scooping

たい焼き (taiyaki) = “baked sea bream”; a baked fish-shaped cake filled with azuki (red bean paste)

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Sahara and Ruby participate in the traditional game of 金魚掬い. There was even a tiny turtle version at the main temple! Unfortunately, the dorm does not allow pets, so all of the fish had to be returned to the pool.

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The mikoshi in front of the main shrine. It is paraded through the streets of the city as a vehicle of the gods to bring good luck to the city and the bearers of the palanquin.

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Grace is ready to get the festivities started! Her happi coat has the name of the city on the front collars and the kanji for 祭 on the back.

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While the palanquin is very heavy, the bearers stay upbeat by “bouncing” the palanquin, clapping, and chanting. One of the carriers said that some mikoshi exceed 1000 kg (OVER 2,000 lbs!!!)

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Some of the SA girls after carrying the mikoshi over a mile to the main shrine, but it doesn’t end there! The carrying started at 3pm and didn’t end until 10pm.

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Everybody is all smiles despite the weight of their cargo.

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Abby is participating in the “women’s only” section, where the men follow in the back as the women carry the mikoshi to the next destination.

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Pausing for a picture with one of the shrine workers at one of the resting stops. He is wearing a traditional happi coat adorned with the city’s name, as well as 地下足袋 (jikatabi), or traditional shoes that split the toe from the rest of the foot.

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The smiles are starting to disappear as the hours tick on, but the sound of clapping and chanting never wanes.

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Finally, the end of the festival. Time to celebrate with some たい焼き!

 

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