Memories of Summer in 2023

In the last few years, gloomy situations were continuing, because comings and goings were restricted and various events were cancelled or their scales were decreased due to the Covid pandemic. Starting from this year, however, the restrictions were gradually lessened, and there were a lot of places where events usually held in summer seasons were resumed for the first time in 4 years. In the Kansai area, where I live, many events were held like before, and people seem to have gotten their vitality back.

Now, I’d like to introduce 3 events held in this summer.

First, this is the Lantern Festival and Court Dancing and Music in a summer festival held in Nishinomiya Shrine on the 20th of July. In Nishinomiya Shrine, a summer festival starts from July 10th and continues until July 31st, during which various events including a night festival are held. On the 20th of July, as one of the main events, the Lantern Festival (called in Japanese “Mantoro”) was held to well come back the souls of our ancestors after sunset. At the same time, in the pine forest in the precincts, the Court Dancing and Music is also performed.

When you enter the precincts, “Ebisu andon (paper-framed lamp)” with illustrations drawn by children and “goshinto (light used as a religious offering)” will meet you. In a wind chime market, a lot of wind chime make cool tones. There are places where you can drink beer or eat nice food under paper lanterns.

When the sun goes down there and it grows dark, about 5,000 candles and 330 stone lanterns, lined up in a row from Red Gate (the entrance gate) to the main shrine, are lighted up. Light lines appear on a deep dark background, and a dreamlike atmosphere is produced.

In the pine forest in the precincts, charming court dances by women and music was dedicated by Harasho-kai in a fantastic atmosphere.

Next, the following scenes are of the summer festival of Kifune Shrine in Amagasaki-City. The big four-wheeled float, which is pulled by many people and on which some young guys stand on the roof, is a decorative portable shrine called in Japanese “danjiri.” The summer festival of Kifune Shrine is a festival that has continued for about 300 years from the Edo Period, and has been performed to pray for protection from a plague.

On August first, a drum paraded at the head and 8 danjiri floats followed it one after another in the town, and they entered the shrine at evening after the parade. Participants from first-time kids to festival veterans got into the danjiri float or pulled it. How cool the young guys who led the progression of the danjiri float on the roof of the danjiri are!

On August second, “Yama-awase” was held on a road next the shrine. The Yama-awase is performed under a rule in which 2 danjiri floats facing each other bumped the faces together from the front, and when the danjiri float whose front rod hits the rod of the rival’s float, then the team is the winner. When the floats bump into to each other, the front parts of the floats are lifted up and the floats are supported by the back wheels alone.

Finally, there is a bon dance event, held in a neighboring commercial facility. In the dance place where a big scaffold was set up, kids in yukata (an informal summer cotton kimono) joined a circle of dancing people, and danced as well as they could per the instructions of their parents. The parents were soaked with sweat taking videos of their cute kids.

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