Monday, July 22, 2019

Ogionsa 2019

Well, Ogionsa was supposed to be on the 20th and 21st. The schedule was for a few taiko and school bands to play on the outdoor stage in Central Park on Saturday from 4 PM to 6:30 PM, along with the Little Cherries school jazz orchestra, and maybe some foamhead mascot stuff. The mikoshi (the portable shrines) would be carried around in Tenmonkan for blessings by the Shinto priests, and visiting the shops in the area, until 8 PM. The main parade along Streetcar Street would be on Sunday from 11 AM to 3 PM, with the staging area being in Central Park.

Recently, I've been having classes on Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30 PM, and then again from 6 to 8 PM. I knew that I'd get out too late at night to see anything or get shochu at one of the food booths on my way home, but I was at least hoping to watch a bit of the taiko drums during the break. Then, the owner of the school told me the 7 PM class was being moved to 5. I wouldn't have enough of a break to visit the park in the afternoon, but I'd be getting out of the school in time to get my shochu. That would be fine by me. But, I discovered that I'd picked up an extra class at 7 PM (which is why the first class had been moved to 5 PM), and now the entire day is shot, as far as Ogionsa was concerned. However, as I was teaching my 3:30 PM student, we suddenly heard thunder approaching, and that was soon followed by heavy rain. A little later, we could hear the mikoshi carriers chanting as they carried the shrines from Tenmonkan to City Hall, but that ended before the lesson finished. I finally got out at 8 PM, and the park was abandoned, and part of the stage had been disassembled. The rain had tapered off by then, which was good because I hadn't brought my umbrella with me.

The rain started back up again about the time I went to bed. The next morning, we were in the middle of a heavy downpour when I got up. I checked the Ogionsa official website, and that announced the main parade had been cancelled. There'd still be the blessing of the shrines in Central Park as if the parade was still starting from there, but that was it. I got to the park at 12 PM, took a few photos, and went to a coffee shop to read manga for an hour.

Most of the people in the park were the mikoshi carriers, with a small handful of tourists. I can understand why the organizers cancelled the parade - several of these shrines are a few hundred pounds each, and will have two people standing on them to lead everyone else in the chanting. Things would get ugly fast if someone fell because the ground was slippery. Even so, Ogionsa is one of the biggest events in Kagoshima, and is certainly one of the biggest ones in the summer. There should be an Obon matsuri at Honganji temple in August (if that's not cancelled), but that's been shrinking over the last couple of years. After that, there's just the free jazz fest in September. All we have to look forward to otherwise are more typhoons.

Oh well. There's always next year. Maybe.

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