Hiraoka Matsuri 枚岡 祭り

Last night I went to the Hiraoka Matsuri! It was so huge, there were so many people (and lots of Mikoshis too), and I was nearly flattened a few times.

Hiraoka is the next station away from Yoshi`s family home. He told me about the festival and we decided to go with his sister and 2 nieces after I finished work yesterday. Yoshi`s brother-in-law was helping to carry one of the Mikoshis, so we thought that we might be able to lend some support.

The 2-day festival was packed and there were families, couples, kids and loooots of sweaty, rowdy, drunken young men (all there to help carry the Mikoshis - I think there were 23 of them - and pick up girls!!

Check out some of the pictures I took...

This is one of the many stalls selling food. This one sold Tamago Senbei (fried eggs on a huge shrimp cracker);

And here is Yoshi about to eat his Tamago Senbei

Here are Yoshi`s super cute nieces playing a kind of super-ball scooping game...

And here are some of the 23(?) Mikoshi;

I am sure that there are some readers (my family especially) who don`t know what Mikoshi are, so I will give you some information (mostly from Wikipedia)...

A mikoshi (神輿?) is a portable Shinto shrine. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the vehicle of a divine spirit in Japan at the time of a parade of deities. Often, the mikoshi resembles a miniature building, with pillars, walls, a roof, a veranda and a railing. Typical shapes are rectangles, hexagons, and octagons. The body, which stands on two or four poles (for carrying), is usually lavishly decorated, and the roof might hold a carving of a Phoenix.

During a matsuri, or Japanese festival, people bear a mikoshi on their shoulders by means of the two or four poles. They bring the mikoshi from the shrine, carry it around the neighborhoods that worship at the shrine, and in many cases leave it in a designated area, resting on blocks, for a time before returning it to the shrine. Some shrines have the custom of dipping the mikoshi in the water of a nearby lake, river or ocean. At certain festivals, the people who bear the mikoshi wave it wildly from side to side.

Apart from my near squashings by HUGE Mikoshis, it was another fun Thursday evening out!


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