My apartment in Japan is on the infamous Senboku line, a train line that has been argued to be the most expensive train line in Japan. After riding the train on a daily basis for a couple of years, you get to know each station. Each station has at least a couple things to do or is known for having a certain area/store that isn’t around my place. Mozuhachiman was an exception.
Mozuhachiman could be described as a ghost town, or just a tiny, quiet little town where absolutely nothing occurs. My friend who had been here years before me told me that his group of friends tried to go exploring but couldn’t find anything other than a shrine. I accidentally got off it one day and had similar results. And so, I wrote it off and just considered it as one of those places where no one goes to.
I was gravely mistaken, at least for a couple of days out of the year. Every autumn, Mozuhachiman has a big festival to pray for a good harvest as well as to celebrate the tsukimi (moon viewing) that occurs every year. For some reason, I was still not convinced that such a thing existed in this quiet little area. Thus, I went along with my friends to prove me wrong.
And wrong I was! The event reminded me of the danjiri matsuri’s that I attended a couple of times before. The main event in the Futon-Daiko festival involves carrying futondaiko (portable shrines) around the shrine grounds. Now some of you might have noticed the word futon in there. Futons are small beddings that most Japanese people use to sleep on. In this case, futons are piled on top of each other on top of the futondaiko. They are then decorated with ropes, tassels and other decorations. To be honest, I had no idea that those were futons on the top until much later when I researched more about the festival. These portable shrines are carried by 60 or so people. This feat alone amazes me because these portable shrines are not light at all. They are extremely heavy—around two tons! I hear each person carrying it has to support a weight of 50kg! Usually there is someone on top of the shrine, chanting off the top of their lungs, supporting the people carrying the shrine or doing a call-and-response chant to them. Inside the shrine there is an elementary school student (a 6th grader) beating the daiko drums. Hence the name, futondaiko.
A wave of people were around the shrines and once one shrine starts moving, everyone hurriedly follows them. It really is quite a spectacle but it can get a little crazy since it’s jam packed. I took a video of it. The first one is waiting for the go-ahead to break through the gates:
And the second one is following it down the path alongside hundreds of people:
Here are some pictures as well:
Like any festival, there were plenty of food stalls and carnie games to play. It had a summer feel to it despite it being the fall. I had a lot of fun that day despite being sick. Now I can say there’s something in Mozuhachiman!