Matsuri: Festivals

There are numerous festivals in Japan throughout the year. Japanese festivals can be categorized into two kinds. One is the traditional festival where people communicate with gods of Shinto in ritual forms of worship on specific dates. The other is the mass event for commemoration or celebration.
I would like to introduce here the traditional autumn festivals organized by local shrines.

絵手紙神社

local shrine

日本では、一年中数えきれないほどの祭が行われています。日本の祭は大きく2つに分けることができます。1つは、神道の神と人間とが特定の日に儀式に則った交渉を行う伝統的なもの。いま1つは、記念や祝賀のための集団的行事。
ここでは、地域の神社が主催する伝統的な秋祭について紹介します。

Autumn festivals in small towns

Since autumn is the season of harvesting, autumn festivals, as a ceremony, are being held in order to show gratitude to gods for the harvest, and to pray for prosperity.
Shrines, which are small and big anywhere in Japan, are regarded as the community’s protective god. Autumn festivals are invariably held in any region in Japan if there is a shrine. Most of those originate from Shinto.
They are usually held in the middle of October. I guess you could watch them if you go to residential areas or rural areas on weekends of this period.

The typical festival is characterized by participants parading around town while carrying portable shrines called “mikoshi,” or hauling festival floats called “dashi” by ropes.

山車

山車

Dashi: 山車

秋祭り山車

Dashi

Dashi

秋は収穫の季節なので、その年一年の実りを神に感謝し、繁栄を祈るために行われてきました。そのセレモニーが秋祭。 神社は地域の守り神なので、大小さまざま、全国津々浦々にあり、神社があれば日本のどの地域でも祭が行われています。ほとんどが神道が起源です。
10月半ばに行われることが多いので、その週末あたりに住宅地や田舎に繰り出すと、見る確率が高まるのではないかしら。

典型的な祭では、参加者が神輿と呼ばれる移動型の神の乗り物を担いだり、山車と呼ばれる祭用の台車を綱で曳きながら町中を練り歩きます。

秋祭り秋祭り

Happi

Japanese people who join the festival usually wear “happi”, which is a traditional costume with original Japanese design.
Happi is a traditional Japanese workman’s coat that usually bears a family crest, shop name, the name of a neighborhood association, or the letter of “matsuri (festival)”.
Perhaps, its design is often seen at souvenir shops in Japan.

happi

Happi design

Happi

Happi

法被

祭に参加する人々の衣装はっぴも伝統的で日本独特の意匠。 はっぴは、日本の伝統的な労働者用の上着で、家紋や屋号、町内会の名称、または「祭」の文字が入っているのが普通です。 もしかすると、日本のお土産屋でよく見かけるデザインかもしれませんね。