Monday, November 4, 2013

Ohara Matsuri

Ohara Matsuri is the big dance festival that is held in Kagoshima City annually on the first weekend of November. There's a ceremony event on Saturday from 7 PM to 9 PM, and the main dance Sunday morning, from around 10 AM to 3 PM (I think). You know that the events are beginning or ending because firecrackers are set off at those times.

The Saturday event consists of dance teams located along the streetcar route from Takamibaba Street down to City Hall. Most teams are made up of company employees or hospital staff. Music plays on the PA system, and the teams alternate between 2 primary dances. They inch their way around a circle about 4 blocks long, ending pretty much where they started. A couple Taiko drum groups spaced evenly along the route play for 5-10 minutes at 7 PM (they play again during the breaks on Sunday).

The dancers have the option of dressing up in costumes individually, or as a group. Many companies have at least one mascot.

There are 4-5 pairs of tables set up along the route as well. One table serves free tea for the audience and the dancers, the other provides free watered-down shochu (a local distilled alcoholic specialty made using sweet potatoes or cane sugar). The people operating the tables usually have 100-200 small paper cups filled and waiting at any given time. As can be seen in the photo here, it's raining. There was a light drizzle all night, so there weren't as many people in the audience, or at the shochu table, as there could have been.

One of the dance teams and their costumes.

A few of the dance teams include whole families.

The street cars go from the main Kagoshima Chuo (Central) station east through Tenmonkan, and veer north at Izuro Street, a few blocks short of Dolphin Port, then they turn around at the old Kagoshima station on the other side of City Hall. Stands were set up for the musicians and the commentators at the intersection where the street cars make their turn from Tram Douri to Izuro Douri.

Members of one of the local hula dance schools. Several of the dancers were also at the Hawai'ian Fest in Tenmonkan a few weeks ago.

The commentators booth.

At the beginning of the Matsuri, before the dancing started, and then during the breaks, some of the mascots were very popular with people that wanted to pose for photos.

Higomaru. He represents a castle of some sort, but I'm not sure which one.

One of the dancers dressed up as Oyaji Medama (Father Eyeball) from Gegege no Kitaro. He was pretty popular with the women in the audience.

And, we wrap up with a group of vampires. As is befitting for vampires, the camera couldn't get a good shot of them. I missed the dancing on Sunday because I couldn't get out of the apartment before the fireworks went off signaling that it was over. Then again, it was raining for most of Sunday, too, so I don't think I missed too much this year.

Youtube Video

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