Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ikutamasan いくたまさん Natsu Matsuri

It is festival season and Gion is far from the only festival in the Kansai area, actually July 11 was the first matsuri I attended this month and it was also the first large summer festival I had ever attended. Located at the Kukunitama-jinja, also called Ikutamasan by the locals, in Tennoji-ku Ōsaka; this was the Natsu (summer) matsuri and it spilled out from the large shrine grounds to the crowded market streets well beyond its gates. The spirit of this festival was less formal and more electric then Gion in Kyōto, in general Ōsaka has a different feel then other areas of Japan I have visited - friendly, open, and more direct while simultaneously being slightly gritty and curt. The festival began in the morning as shrines from all over the Tennoji area brought forth their mikoshi with parades of Taiko (太鼓) "drum" players and dancers. The many parades could be heard throughout the city and as I walked down one of the major streets I encountered celebrations and precessions of various sizes about every 3-4 blocks. In the early evening all the parades turned toward Kukunitama-jinja where they were pushed through the crowds toward the Hoden (main shrine).

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