Monday, February 9, 2009

Weirdest Matsuri in Japan - Yaya Matsuri Day 1.

1st Feb was the first day of Owase's やや祭り (Yaya Matsuri)
It's voted as one of the weirdest festivals in the whole of Japan and the Tan Tans were about to find out why.

History of やや祭り Yaya Matsuri - Originated from 1549 in which Owase Jinja was part of another jinja. At the same time, Owase was an warriors' concentration where many battles took place. So, one of the feudal lords or his wife decided that the samurai should show their fighting spirit without more sacrificial of lives and mould this Matsuri where his men should participate in a friendly pushing competition without their katanas. This also helped to strengthen the physical fitness of the guys.

Yaya Matsuri Duration: From 1st to 5th Feb
Day: 1st day of the Matsuri - 1st Feb
Time: 12midnight.
Venue: 尾鷲神社 (Owase Jinja)
Temp: 1 degree celsius that was not helped by the roaring wind

Yes, the Tan Tans were crazy enough to go to Owase Jinja at 12midnight just to catch the first ceremony of the Yaya Matsuri - The "Door Opening" Ceremony. This was the ceremony during which the doors of the Gods are open for them to enjoy the few days of celebrations ahead.

Many, many lanterns were seen during the ceremony and the Tan Tans got to learn that there are a total of 20 (町)old towns or street in Owase and as such, there are a total of 20 different prints on the lanterns. Every year, during Yaya Matsuri, 3 streets will be chosen in which they will become the strongholds for the neighbouring streets. These 3 strongholds will then "battle" against each other during this Matsuri.

Some of the the different prints on the lanterns.

The priest with the ceremonial ritual together with the representatives of the 20 町 (machi).

After the ceremony, the groups marched away shouting チョウサじゃ (Jyosaja) as though they were gonna wake up the whole neighbourhood.

Part 1 of day 1 ended for the Tan Tans.

Part 2: 1.30pm
Location: Owase Street
The Tan Tans, unsatisfied with the gains last midnight, chanced upon the traditional 獅子 (lion dance) at Owase street around 1.30pm. It seemed like the troupe had started out early in the morning from 9am.

Part 3: Traditional purification ceremony
Time: 6pm
Location: Owase Port
In the evening, the Tan Tans upon catching the news that there would be a traditional purification ceremony, rushed to Owase port at 6pm. Not many people were present and the Tan Tans learned that it is because this cleansing ceremony would continue to be carried out over the next 4 days.

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