Tuesday, May 12, 2009

After the Samurai festival we drove down to the coastal town of Iwaki for the next festival. We got up early and met a small group of other foreigners who would be participating in the festival. In the Suwaginja tairesai festival giant mobile shrines (Omikoshi) are paraded through the streets while onlookers throw their contributions onto it. We would be carrying the shrine, and its heavy just like it looks. Its not enough though just to carry the shrine it must be shaking and bouncing around the entire time, so as we lugged the shrine around there was always someone either on the back or front pulling down crashing it into our shoulders. Sure it made the little bells jingle but it also caused a good amount of bruising on our shoulders. Once we hit the beach we stripped down to just either our tiny shorts or fundoshis and into the waves the shrine went. We were in the freezing water for at 20 minutes battling the waves and pushing against the other shrine carriers. After the beach the shrines split up and we canvased the city seperately. When all the Omikoshis met back in front of the temple there was a shrine fight pushing and crowding the shrines together each shrine trying to outdo the other shrines. Each in turn then entering the temple and placing the shrines back in their place. As the festival concluded we were invited to the enki thrown by the group who carried the shrine.

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