Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Karakasa


I mentioned in my year 6 wrap-up that I haven't heard from the people that had been organizing local events, like the Aira city view bus ride and the kiri-e classes, and I'd been wondering if they'd cut ties with me. Well, right after I ran that entry, one of those people sent me a facebook message inviting me to 2 events on the 20th - Bon in Ijuin and Karakasa.

I'd seen the facebook group planning Bon, and wasn't really sure I wanted to go to it. It's a live music event, but it looked like it would cost money. The fact that it's in Ijuin, which is an hour away by train, was another disincentive. When I realized that it would be at the same time as Ogionsa, I figured that I definitely would give it a pass.

On the other hand, I'd never heard of Karakasa before. I have mentioned that in the Shinto religion objects can take on energy from their human owners if they remain in contact with people for too long. This is featured heavily in Gegege no Kitaro, especially with dolls. "Kasa" is Japanese for "umbrella", and "Karakasa" could effectively translate to "unwanted umbrellas". The URL for the shrine webpage includes the words "kasayaki", or "burning umbrellas". To dispose of the bad energy built up in old umbrellas, they'd be purified in a bonfire. The event location was near the Meiji Restoration Museum on the Kotsuki river, a 10-minute walk from the apartment.

The sky looked kind of dark and brooding for most of the afternoon of the 20th, and the rain held off until the Ogionsa mikoshi parades had finished at 5:30. Within 15 minutes, a decent storm broke out, soaking everything. The rain was still coming down hard at 6, and since Karakasa was supposed to start at 7, I was thinking it might get canceled. But, the photos on the website were taken at night, and it wouldn't get dark until 8, so I just bided my time. By 7, the rain had stopped and the sky started clearing up. The ground was drying off by 7:45, so I headed out the door.

I got to the designated spot at the Restoration Museum, but it was deserted. No signs, no posters, nothing. As I wandered around to see if I'd missed something, a group of 4 Kagoshima residents showed up and complained that there was nothing there, too. So, I wasn't the only one expecting to find Karakasa in that spot.

After a while, I returned home and sent a facebook message asking if Karakasa was postponed due to the rain. My Kagoshima contact eventually replied back saying that the event had been relocated at the last minute to another place 1 mile farther down the river. Sigh, would have been nice to know that at the time...

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