The Otsu Festival ~大津祭

Thursday, 10 October 2013

It's the time again, the Otsu Festival!! (This weekend!)
I would like to show my favourite festival as Otsu is my hometown!  (Photos are from 2011)


Sunday is the festival day.
The 13 floats start to parade from Tenson shrine, the home of the festival.
The parade starts from the morning to the early evening.


The musicians get on the floats, and play the traditional festival music all day.
The music is slightly changed to more speedy and exciting music, and the town really comes alive.


The float is heavy.  We need lots of people to draw it.


 Otsu has the biggest lake in Japan so that our city is a sister city to Michigan in USA, where also have a lake.
Some students from Michigan come to Otsu every year for the internship.
I think the people in the photo are those students.....
They were doing volunteer job to draw floats.
I thought it is a brilliant idea.
It's quite rare chance to join the foreign festival not only to watch it.
By the way, my partner was very excited too.
(I guess the festival is really "The Japan")


The float is very heavy and it has only 2 wheels.
It's very hard to change the direction.
(They have to lift up the float to change the direction.)


The parade is not only marching.
They stop at several points and show the mechanical dolls' performance, which is the main of the festival.
Those dolls are the ones of the oldest in Japan although they were repaired some times in the history, therefore they are not the originals.
Those dolls are all different from each floats.
The names and the stories of the performance of the floats were adopted from the Noh, Japanese classical drama, legends, and historical events.
(It's not related to area itself)


This is Gekkyuden-zan, another name is "Tsuru kame-zan".
The story comes from the Noh "tsuru kame (crane and turtle)".
"Tsuru kame" is the story about the Chinese emperor had a party to celebrate a new year.
The doll with pink kimono has a crane on his head, and the doll with green kimono has a turtle on her head.
They are dancers and they are dancing in front of the emperor.


This is Seioubo-zan, another name is "Momo-yama" (Momo means peach)
Seioubo (Xi Wangmu) is a Chinese goddess who had a special orchard of longevity peaches.
But somehow,  they added the episode of Momotaro to the mechanical doll's performance.
Momotaro is the popular hero of Japanese folklore, who was born from a peach.
In this photo, Momotaro just came out from the peach.

こちらは西王母山。 別名「桃山」。

After the doll's performances, the musicians scattered Chimaki and tea towels from the floats.
Chimaki means a traditional Chinese sweets, made of glutinous rice.
But in the Otsu festival,  Chimaki means a talisman. (you can't eat it, but they also scatter edible one too! )
It's very hard to get Chimaki.  If you get it, you are very lucky! 
Chimaki protects you from bad luck for a year if you put it near the front door of your house. 
I used to collect chimaki from all of the floats when I was a little....


The trick to get chimaki is to get attention from the musicians. lol

I believed the Otsu festival was the best in Japan when I was a kid since I didn't know about Gion Festival.
(Gion Festival in Kyoto is one of the biggest festival in Japan.)
But, I think you might enjoy the Otsu festival more than Gion festival.
Because it is dreadfully too crowded to walk around at the Gion festival.... lol
The Otsu festival is smaller, but you can get closer and it's still similar to the Gion festival.
So, come and see their nice smiles!!!



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