Maisaka Odaiko Matsuri

Maisaka-cho, Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka


Kisa Jinja, Maisaka-cho, Nishi-ku, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka
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September 14th and 15th in Japanese ancient luni-solar calendar.
(There is a 1-2 month gap between ancient and modern calendar)


Canal Hamamatsu


This festival is held at the Kisa shrine beside Lake Hamanako on the 14th and 15th of the 9th month of the traditional Japanese lunar calendar to pray for safe fishing and a bumper fish catch. Mikoshi (portable shrines) and carriges with large drums of more than 2 m in diameter, parade throughout the old post town together with people dancing in lines. It is a very lively and grand festival.

This festival has been held as a dedication of the dance since the early Edo era, while the dedication of the drums was introduced in the late Edo era. Eight large and small drums are carried, and the huge drum has a diameter of approximately 240 cm, barely allowing it to pass through the Torii (the gateway at the entrance of a Shinto shrine). The leather used for the drums is cow skin. The particular drumstick used is according to the size of the drum. Some are approximately 1 m in length, rather like a baseball bat.

It is said that the goddess who is enshrined in Kisa Shrine goes out to Inariyama shrine, 1 km away to the east, in the early morning of the 15th day of the 9th month of the lunar calendar. She then returns in the evening through the night of the full moon. The lines of dancers are assumed to follow the return journey of the goddess. The tradition of this festival is respected, so the period and start and end times of the festival are strictly determined. There remain older performances, such as that of the three youths called “Sando-no-tsukai” who receive orders from the Director to deliver the same messages.

On the 14th, the festival is held in the evening. Huge and middle-size drums parade through four towns from afternoon to evening. For the main festival on the 15th, the ritual is performed in the morning, and subsequently Mikoshi, carried by Ujiko (Shrine Parishioners) wearing white clothing and eboshi (a type of headgear worn by ancient court nobles), depart to Inariyama shrine. Before moving the Mikoshi, “Kiyari uta” that came from Ise region must be sung.

Mikoshi, followed by the huge drum carriages preserved by each town, are carried up and down 28 very steep stone steps between the precincts of the Shrine and the three Torii. You must not miss this spectacular performance with the constant beating of drums.

When the drum carriages return from Inariyama shrine, each of the drums is beaten splendidly. This is the grand finale of this festival.

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