Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Ogion-sa, 2013

When being lazy creates more work for yourself.

Ogion-sa is an annual festival held in Kagoshima in July. This year, it was on the 20th and 21st. It's based on the earlier matsuri in Gion, in Kyoto. I knew it was coming up. I'd caught part of it last year, and I wanted to watch more this time. But, the kiri-e class was scheduled on the 21st, and I work on Saturdays, so I figured I'd watch as much of Ogion-sa as I could on Saturday when I went in to teach English at the conversation school near city hall. My work started at 1 PM, so I left the apartment at noon. However, there was nothing happening along the event route on tram street leading in to Tenmonkan. I looked around for the advertising posters, and verified that it was on the 20th and 21st. However, since the posters are in Japanese, I'd been too lazy to read the fine print. Looking closer, I discovered that the Saturday portion was to be from 6 to 9 PM. Ok, fine, I'll come back later.

After work, I return home and eat dinner. I don't get out until 8 PM. I return to tram street, and again, no parade. So, I track down another poster, and looking closer at the fine print, I notice that it's in the Tenmonkan arcade, which is one of the walkways within the Tenmonkan shopping complex (actually, it's very close to the magic shop/coffee cafe, the JAXA museum and the anime bar). When I get to the arcade, I find that the event is just the leaders of the different mikoshi groups giving speeches, Shinto priests blessing everyone, and the marchers doing chants to build up their excitement level for the next day. The last group finished their part at 8:30 PM. If you're not one of the marchers, or you aren't interested in Shinto ceremonies, you can skip the Saturday event. Most people here do.

And then they leave.

Ok. So (I'm using "so" a lot here), Sunday. On Sunday, I have the kiri-e (cut paper art) class at the Mirai-kan (environmental museum) the opposite direction from Tenmonkan. The class was to start at 1:30, and I figured that if I got an early enough start, I could watch part of the main Ogionsa parade before I had to leave. I get out of the apartment at 11 AM, and... nothing is happening at the event route. I go look for another poster, and this time I find that the main event is from 1 to 6 PM. Sigh. There's no way I can stick around to watch the first few minutes of the parade, and still make it to the Mirai-kan before 1:30 PM. Instead, I return home for an hour and a half, then I go to the kiri-e class. When that ends at 4:30, one of the women offers to give me and a few others a ride in her car to Tenmonkan. By that time, all of the marching groups have finished parading their mikoshi around, and the priests are giving a final blessing to the last group before they pack their stuff up.

(One of the smaller mikoshi.)

However, there is still the faint sound of drums coming from the direction of the Maruya Gardens department store. It's the last taiko group, giving a 30-minute performance. The crowd around them was packed enough that I had trouble finding a good place for taking photos. I could only record the last 2 minutes before they finished and the PA system announced that everything was over for this year. The streets would be opened to regular traffic in a few minutes, so would everyone please get out of the way.

If I were less lazy, I'd have read the posters up front and saved myself some unnecessary walking... Well, there's always next year. The Taiko group was really good, anyway.

Youtube video

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