Last Sunday, we went to Megijima, not to see the Setouchi Triennale‘s artworks (we saw them back in April) but to attend its summer matsuri. I don’t know this matsuri that well – it was my first time – except that it’s actually the Megijima matsuri and the Ogijima matsuri combined. Another sign of the terrible depopulation that is slowly killing the Seto Inland Sea islands. As there aren’t enough people on both islands to hold separate matsuri (not even mentioning one matsuri per shrine), they have shared them for a few years now. It takes place on Ogijima with Ogijima’s traditions one year, and on Megijima the other year. This year was Megijima’s turn.
I’ve already shown you Megijima on this blog, but on Sunday, I rediscovered the island as it looked completely different to what I’m used to, even though it is this “version” of the island that most Takamatsu residents know the best. That is a mini beach resort (as Takamatsu’s main beach is actually Megijima’s):
I had never seen that many people on the island. With the Triennale visitors, the beach-goers and people like me who came for the matsuri, there were at least a couple of thousands people on Megijima on this Sunday. (as a reminder the island has about 200 inhabitants).
Actually, that made me understand better why locals behave the way they do with visitors on normal days, they’re used to tourists, so they simply ignore them, almost like in big tourism areas (as opposed to Ogijima or Teshima that are not used to many visitors and are some of the most welcoming people I know).
Should I mention that the heat was intense like it’s been every day since early July? However, as it was a bit overcast, at least the sun was not burning us and it made the whole thing bearable.
[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/gVOGmvG9_iw” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
Oh, a foreigner among the taikodai carriers… Actually, I don’t want to say anything bad about anyone, but one of the three foreigners who took part in the matsuri pretended not to see me when earlier when we almost bumped into each other. I mean, he literally turned his head in the other direction as I was making eye contact and nodding at him (to avoid any confusion, it’s not the guy on the picture but another one, you can see him carrying the taikodai in later pictures in this post). I don’t know about you and I know it’s an age old debate, but here in Takamatsu, foreigners are rare and it’d be hypocritical to pretend not to see each other when we do. So when we run into each other, a look, a smile, a nod is usually the proper thing to do. It’s just polite. So usually, when I run into a foreigner here that pretends to not see me, I conclude that they’re either a tourist, from a big city (I understand that in Osaka or Tokyo foreigners are plenty and it makes sense to actually ignore each other), a rude jerk, or an idiot that doesn’t want “his” Japan experience to be spoiled by those other foreigners that pollute his field of view. I wonder which one he was.
Sorry for this off-topic rant, let’s go back on track here, with this side note. All these taikodai carriers are plenty and young. Don’t be fooled, pretty much none of them live on Megijima or Ogijima. Most of them are Takamatsu residents that come only for the matsuri (their family may originally come from the island – or not).
One of the thing I like about Matsuris is that they’re all different. For example, it’s the first time I see that people kneel or squat when the offerings are removed from the front of the mikoshi (that also may be because I’ve rarely seen the religious ceremony part of the matsuri I’ve attended so far).
Then, the mikoshi is carried above the people who wish it. As some sort of blessing, good fortune thing I suppose:
OK, I don’t have much more to tell about the Megijima matsuri. The rest will be more interesting with a video and more pictures than with words (and in case you wonder, no teenagers were sacrificed during this matsuri, but it was a close call at some point):
This little bath is not the end of the trip for the taikodai. Next, it has to be carried out of the water:
Unfortunately, we didn’t follow it to the end (we had another “appointment“) but if you want to see the epilogue, you can see it on this video. It takes place in the shrine that is uphill on the outskirts of the village on the way to the oni cave.
It was another very pleasant matsuri (I had never been to an unpleasant one). I’m afraid it’s going to be my only summer matsuri this year (there aren’t many in the area), but I can’t wait for the fall matsuri that are plenty in Kagawa, including my favorite one, the Teshima Karato matsuri (who knows I may end up carrying the taikodai this year too?). Of course I can’t wait to attend the Ogijima matsuri (couldn’t last year) but I’ll have to wait another year for it.