It was that time of year again. I’d seen the posters plastered everywhere: on walls, sides of buildings, and outside the insides of buildings. It was time for the yearly festival that happens every year annually.
Numata is a quiet city for 362 days a year, except for leap years when it’s quieter for an extra day. Usually the most well attended events are funerals or hospital waiting room waiting areas.
But for 3 glorious days in August, it comes alive and is lively like a living thing. It’s like one of those birds or insects that only lives for 3 days before dying, and then does it all again the next year.
So I packed my extensive camera equipment into one of my shorts’ pockets, checked my other pockets for beer money, and made the long 20 minute walk to the festivities.
No one invited me, but I went anyway.
I ran in to some of my students, that I know and teach, coming from a wifebeater convention possibly. I like the 2 in the middle because I don’t teach them yet. Their mother is single glandedly trying to re-populate Japan (the youngest sibling is missing).
On the mainstreet there were games involving turtle scooping , but check out that kid’s ear!!!
Main street was closed to traffic from 1 to 10pm. This was the real deal!
More students awkwardly posing. That little girl whacked me with the stick in her hand too! Check out Elvis in the background.
Former students off to carry a big phallic symbol around the city.
Phallic symbol previously mentioned, otherwise known as Tengu: woodland spirit and resembling most big nosed foreigners.
Another student. Garbed in festival outfit and sporting a half eaten chocolate banana. He wouldn’t share 😦
Former student and father at the front. Makers of the best cake in town. Carrying the*omikoshi of the festival. *omikoshi = portable shrine.
Then it rained. No biggie; it usually rains, so everyone is prepared or too pissed to care.
Seeking shelter from the storm, I ran across these little urchins who were very impressed with Kelly Pettit‘s “I can detach the final joint of my finger” magic trick. No global warming tricks though: beer drowned my disappointment.
Then it was back to sweaty, drunk, rain-soaked, young, nymphomaniac women carrying around not one but two phallic symbols. Okay … the nymphomaniac part I’m not sure about … for all of them.
Then the beer kicked in and things got blurry.
Off to the Grand Finale at the Suga Shrine with the 5 invited Dashi* drumming, fluting, and triangling while the Suga Omikoshi did its last frenzied stagger around the Shrine grounds while all the onlookers tried to stay out of its uncontrollable path. *Dashi=pull around floats involving pulling and stuff.
Then it was parked back inside the Suga shrine for another year. And all the festival goers went home and dreamed of the next funeral or hospital waiting room waiting area visit.
I don’t classify myself as a “homer” when it comes to things I miss in Canada, but my adopted city’s festival is a highlight on my calendar. I’ve been to 9 so far and hopefully I make it to another 9 or more in the future. I’d seriously be distressed if I missed the Numata Matsuri.