The painting above is not mine, but it is one of my favorite woodblock prints. It was made in 1951 by Toshi Yoshida, one of my favorite woodblock printers. It shows the street leading up to Iwamoto jinja. Very little has changed since then. Here is that same view today: Google maps link
I loved that print long before I had ever been here, so when I first came to the Iwamoto shrine and saw the street above, I thought.. “Hmmm this looks oddly familiar, like I’ve been here before.” Later on I made the connection and realized that this was the street from this print!
Anyway, I mentioned in the previous post about the festival I visit every year this time. I took a video this time and I thought you guys might be interested in having a look.
The basic story behind what’s going on is that every village in Japan has a local shrine, and the local shrine of this neighborhood is the Otaki jinja. This is the large shrine that is the home of the goddess of papermaking, Kawakami gozen. Every year on this holiday, the god is removed from Otaki jinja and placed in a mikoshi, a portable (very heavy) golden shrine, which is carried on the shoulders of the men of the town. The mikoshi is taken from the head shrine and visits all of the smaller shrines in the village (there are lots). It takes all day, and at each shrine the men are given sake as offerings for carrying the shrine.
At around 5pm, they reach the final shrine, which is also the biggest of the local shrines (not counting the head shrine). This shrine is called Iwamoto jinja. The locals of Iwamoto are particularly zealous, so they don’t want the shrine to return back to Otaki jinja. The want Kawakami gozen to stay at their shrine for the whole year. So the men of the village gather at the shrine exit, and when the big mikoshi (carried by very drunk, very tired men) tries to leave Iwamoto jinja, there is a sort of tug of war battle that goes on. It’s pretty extreme to watch, and every year I can’t believe that nobody gets killed.
The mikoshi (portable shrine cart) arrives at the shrine:
The shrine battle:
Bonus: can you find all of the yokai in the video? (Hint: There are three.)