My weekend began very abruptly to the sound of obnoxiously loud noises coming through my open sliding door around 10:00 in the morning. As I later discovered, they were coming from the local Shinto Shrine sitting at the base of Mt. Yashima. It turns out that last weekend played host to the annual Aki Matsuri, the Fall Festival. The Aki Matsuri takes place once a year, in the fall, as the name suggests. From what I was told when we visited the shrine on Saturday night, that day was just practice for the next day, when the real festival would take place. I believe the purpose of the fall festival is somewhat similar to the American holiday, Thanksgiving, where you give thanks for that year’s harvest and prosperity and to pray for next year’s. I didn’t go to the actual festival on Sunday but I got an idea of what it was about that night on Saturday.
Some of those are my friend’s pictures because, since he left for the festival practice earlier than I did, he was able to get inside the building and get those close-ups! Eventually, during the dragon dance, the drums and gongs got to be a little too much for me, so we left and went back to the dorm to play some table-tennis!
The festival practice was beautiful and the sense of community was strong! That is what I gather is the real point of the festival because the next day, when Felix and I went for a run along the river that flows past our dormitory, we passed numerous people already out and about in the small town. Most of them were congregated around large rolling “floats.” I use floats for lack of better term but that may actually be what it’s called. They have two wheels to roll upon and straddled between the two long, thick poles that sit upon the wheels (former trees with the bark shaved off), is a little hut that houses a drum that two young ones will sit and hit while the float is rolled to and from the shrine. So as we were running we passed many of these that were on their way to the shrine. From what I understand, these floats are very expensive and are usually paid for by the community, and anyone who contributes money for the float gets special uniforms and gets to participate in the festival every year.
Here is the river we ran along.
After a long run and a nice, cold shower, we gather the troops for a nice trip to my new favorite, recently deemed, weekly Sunday brunch tradition at Mister Donut for donuts and coffee!
I’m definitely looking forward to Sunday’s now!