Monday, February 9, 2009

Weirdest Matsuri in Japan - Yaya Matsuri Days 2-4

Day 2 marked the actual start of Yaya Matsuri and it was than I discovered the most interesting part of this whole matsuri. Too bad that Mrs Tan Tan had to teach a conversational class and so I went to explore on my own.

Of the 3 strongholds for this year, I had decided to go to Horimachi. The first impression that hit me. Drunkards!
The Yaya Matsuri is basically a pushing match - groups of people clash and try to win by pushing the other group away. The smell of alcohol really hit me even though I was standing a distance away.

Shortly after I reached Horimachi, the group from the other machi arrived and the challenge began. Chants of "チョウサじゃ"(pronounced jyosaja) filled the increasingly intense atmosphere. (A check with my nihongo sensei shows that it represents the "coming of adulthood" or "passing adulthood" but sadly it seems like no one really knew the real meaning of this chant during the matsuri) video
After the battle, the group proceeded to the port where I was treated to another すっぽんぽん (suponpon) show where "the chosen" men stripped themselves naked and jumped into the freezing cold seawater to carry out a prayer facing the East.

The naked participants being encircled by the other guys upon climbing out of the freezing water. A mini-yaya was done to keep the naked guys warm until they reached a small hut(approx 15m away) for a hot shower.

(I am not posting the video and pictures of the naked men as I have yet to edit that, so please bear with it.)

After the dip, the guys went to the jinja to pray and that ended the day's matsuri though we heard from the locals that the matsuri carried on with more drinks until around 2am every night. Talk about celebrations.

It was raining on day 3 and so the Tan Tans gave the matsuri a miss as they thought it might be cancelled

Day 4 was Awesome! There were many more participants and the crowd had swelled compared to the previous days.

video

We also chanced upon the Taiwanese film crew of 世界那么大 shooting this interesting fesival.
video
The Tan Tans almost got interviewed had it not for the arrival of the next "すっぽんぽん" group.

Additional information for those who are keen to catch the Yaya Masturi.
Main Yaya clash: Days 2-4 of matsuri
Time: 7.30pm
Time the Bigger Yaya starts: Around 8pm
Time for the dip (i.e. diving into the port): Around 830pm
Location: One of the 3 chosen streets. You can find it by the setup of huge bamboo barricades in the area. (They are used to protect houses from being damaged during the Yaya.)

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