Kakegawa 2000 October 8th and 9th.

History of the City
The city of Kakegawa is situated at the geographical center of the Japanese archipelago, right at the 138th Eastern parallel. A rich cultural and historical heritage has developed here since ancient times, when Kakegawa flourished as a castle town and an inn-keeping village, a traveler's rest stop along the famous Tokaido route. Among the many things to see here is Kakegawa Castle Tenshukaku, the first fully-restored wooden structure of this kind in Japan. Also, be sure to sample the many delicious taste treats unique to our town. As for the many visitors who have made the trip to our town -- surrounded by great natural beauty and filled with the same spirit as the Edo period inn-keepers -- we feel sure they were glad they cam to see us.

Kakegawa Great Festival (Kagegawa O-Matsuri)
Kakegawa City has the grand festival, or festival every year, but once every three years it has a great festival. The most popular event of O-Matsuri is the dancing of the biggest lion in Japan, "Nito-no-o'jishi" The dynamic lion dancing requires 200 young people, and attracts large crowds. Also is the "Kankaramachi" a traditional marching dance of Kawaramachi, which is said to be derived from the dance offered to Asahina Bicchu-no-kami, formerly the overseer of Kakegawa Castle, in the hope of abundant harvest and as a talisman. With "Daimyo Gyoretsu" (a line of feudal lord procession)" of Nishimachi, you will hear high-spirited calls from the procession echoing in the streets. Besides these three major entertainment's, there are also as many as forty floats with beautiful ornaments, marching in the street, creating a festival sprit throughout this castle town.

On October 8th and 9th, I traveled to Kakegawa in Shizuoka Prefecture to take part in the annual Matsuri Festival. The main activity of this event is pulling this large portable shrine around the neighborhood. Thank you very much to the Nakamura family who have invited me for the past 3 years.

Title: "Preparing for the pull"

From the Nakamura's family home, the matsuri float passes at dusk. At the time it was being pulled by approximately 50 people, by nights end there are well over 200 at the event.

Title: "Coming out for the pull."

Making the turn on the road, the float passes. As you can see, on the top of the float there is a small shrine. On the float often you can find a kimono clad manikin, a tree branch and men and children in costume. In addition, this float has it's own fife and taiko drummer playing for the crowd.

Title: "Playing for the gods."

Climbing through the rafters, people assemble on the top of the float for fun and partying.

Title: "up close."

As night comes, the party begins to pick-up. People begin to dance to the sounds of the Taiko Drum and chant "Sorye sorye, sorya sorya" which means... Well, actually, I have no idea.

Title: "Sorye sorye..."

And the party keeps going and going... I am the white figure in the middle.

Title: "Sorye sorye 2."

And the party keeps going and going...

Title: "So di re So di re 3."

At one point in the event, two floats meet. (From adjoining neighborhoods.) The floats emerge with lamps lit and they begin doing battle. Hundreds of people lift and push their floats as fast as they can, swinging the lamps from side-to-side.

Title: "The fight."

Starting at 6am on Sunday morning by 11am people take a needed break. Here is a still shot of the float.

Title: "At Rest."

Starting at 6am on Sunday morning by 11am people take a needed break. Here is a still shot of the float.

Title: "At Rest 2"

During the needed break, people check over the float just to make sure everything is in working order.

Title: "Check."

The small float that proceeds the main float, sits at rest during the break. The scene shows an "Oni" (devil). In Japan there are good devils and bad devils. This devil is keeping the evil sprits away.

Title: "At rest."

Needing a break, well enough said.

Title: "A Breif Rest."

The party continues until very early morning on Sunday. Due to other plans I was not able to attend, however I want to thank the people of Kakegawa and the Nakamura family for showing me a great time again this year. SEE YOU NEXT YEAR.