On October 15 of every year, the Uchinomi Matsuri takes place on Shodoshima. It is one of the eight fall matsuri that take place mid-October on the island over the span of 10 days. All of them are harvest matsuri and are affiliated with various Hachiman shrines on the island.
A couple of days ago, I introduced yout to the Nobori-Bashi, but while it is the matsuri’s “trademark”, it is by no means its main event. Actually, nobori-bashi takes place in the morning, and tends to be somewhat low-key compared to the main event in the afternoon that takes the form of a dozen or so of large Taikodai that come from several shrines in the area and gather on the small plaza in Uchinomi / Yasuda (one day, I need to find what is the exact difference between the two) in front of the Tamaki shrine.
If you don’t know what a taikodai is, you can click on the link, or just know that it’s a heavy float carried by many men, with one or several drums (taiko in Japanese) in its center. They are the center pieces of many matsuri on Shikoku (and certainly in other parts of Japan too). And you will see a lot of them in this post.
In Umaki, during lunch break, just before things start to really heat up.
The Taikodai! They are coming!
The crowd is getting more and more compact and the taikodai have to “squeeze” through the crowd. Of course, seeing how big and heavy they are, you’re the one risking to get squeezed if you’re in the way.
Last cigarette break before the big effort.
Teens being teens, that is pretending to be too cool to care, except that they care; they are there.
That’s one of the things I really like about Japanese matsuri. It’s an event that includes everyone in the community, regardless of age, social status and whatnot. I don’t know in your country, but in mine, such an event doesn’t really exist. You have the things for young people, the thing for old people. People from various social backgrounds will attend different cultural events and so on. Here, everyone is there, everyone. It’s as simple as that. And when I say everyone, I mean it, the streets of the towns are pretty much deserted as soon as you leave the matsuri area.
A small pause after some major effort.
“Wait, what? What effort? Two pictures ago, they were about get started and now they’re taking a pause, what’s going on?” (that’s what some readers may be wondering now). Well, this happened in the meantime:
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(by the way, the videos in this post are a bit longer than usual, but I really advise you to watch them in their entirety, they’ll give you a much better feel of the atmosphere than just the pictures)
These kiddos play the very important part of taikodai drummers. They must be able to keep their cool when the taikodai are being shaken and more. One of my junior high school students happen to be from Uchinomi and he sat there when he was a kid. His older brother told me about it, and he was quite proud of it.
(As usual, with picture galleries, simply click on a picture to see it full size)
This guy may not look like much, but the energy that emanated from him when he was leading his taikodai was quite amazing. Some people indeed are natural-born leaders. You can see more of him in the video near the end of the post.
Sure, matsuri and taikodai are cool and all, but not as cool and as important as trading cards.
(actually, I have the feeling that some kids really love matsuri day mostly because school is cancelled that day)
Here come the lion-dogs!
[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/amLKkHp5HYU?list=UUcGkR6Xip9nHDBlICZ4OteQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/49GgrRJEB6w?list=UUcGkR6Xip9nHDBlICZ4OteQ” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen]
(as previously mentioned, the video is a bit long, but take the time to watch – later if necessary –
it will give you a good feel of what the matsuri is really like)
The mikoshi (portable shrines) and the Tengu are waiting for their turn.
High school students could join the festivities just on time after school ended.
I hope this glimpse of the Uchinomi Matsuri piqued your interest and that you will attend the Shodoshima Fall Matsuri one of these days. Remember, they take place between October 11-21 every year. And Uchinomi Matsuri in particular takes place on October 15 (that is in a week).