Kamioka "Big" Festival 神岡大祭

A few weeks ago, I went to the Furukawa festival, which is the cornerstone of festivals in Hida City. One weekend after, Kamioka celebrates it's festival.

But not this year.

Once every 20 years, Kamioka Town celebrates its "Big" Festival. In this festival, shrines from all over the Hida area bring their mikoshi, and pray for everyone in the region for good health and prosperity for the next 20 years.

The normal, local Kamioka Festival was held on Sunday, May 4th, and the "big" festival was held on the two days after.

神岡祭 / Kamioka Festival

I was able to attend the local festival for a little while on Sunday night. I arrived right before all the neighborhoods in town proceed to the Otsu Shrine 大津神社. Each procession moved to the base of the shrine, and performed their dance in the street. When finished, they move up the steps of the Shrine, and into the courtyard.

There were elementary school kids doing a dance with drums. There was a very acrobatic Shishi dance. And some older elementary school kids sounding bells, and dancing in a circle.

神岡大祭 / Kamioka "Big" Festival

On Monday, it rained almost all day, so I did not attend. I figured many of the planned activities would be canceled or somehow taken inside away from the rain. I didn't think it would be pleasant, so I opted for attending Tuesday only. And the weather on Tuesday was beautiful. :)

The "Big" festival is basically just a big version of the local one. Most of the shrines in the Hida region bring their Mikoshis to Kamioka. They parade to the base of the Otsu Shrine, perform a dance, bring their mikoshi to the Otsu Shrine, and place their "diety" (or whatever it is) inside.


Because there are so many shrines, this takes HOURS. From 9 o'clock to Noon, each shrine follows this pattern. Then the shrine's people just hang out in the courtyard of the Otsu shrine.

There are several performances put on the members of the shrines to show everyone how awesome they are.

I saw MANY of my students there, too. :)

In the middle of the day, the main members of the shrine gathered inside of the Otsu Shrine, and they all prayed for the prosperity of Hida, and the betterment of its residents.

After everyone prayed for Hida, around 4pm, the member's of the shrines began collecting their "deities", and proceed to go home. They move down the steps of Otsu Shrine, and, once again, perform their dances at the base of the Shrine, before parading through the streets again, and then back home.

I think there's a little more to it than that, but that's basically what happened on Tuesday. As the different shrines began leaving, I decided that I had seen everything to see and then left, too.

I think there was something else going on at night, but I didn't want to wait around for another 3 hours for that to happen.

Thoughts

I dunno, there wasn't really anything special or unique about this festival. It was neat that it was so large, but with so many attendees, it just made everything take more time.

Of course, that's not really the point of the festival. They aren't trying to bring in tourists, or make some kind of spectacular or statement. It's a regional traditional festival that started 120 years ago, that prays for everyone's lives to be better.

As such, I saw many people I knew, and met a few new people. There were also plenty of people that later said they saw me at the festival, which started some good conversations about teaching English, or Kendo, or whatever.

I think it was worth it to go. :)


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