Tokyobling's Blog

Preparing for the Yabusame – Omikoshi Ceremony

Posted in Animals, Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on April 22, 2014

I spent weekend in the tiny town of Ogano in deepest Saitama prefecture north of Tokyo, to visit their annual Harumatsuri, one of the two major events taking place in this isolated mountain town. One of the main events of the festival was the Yabusame, ritual horse archery peformed by some of the most famous archers in Japan. Before the archery itself could start there was the ceremony of the omikoshi, a mobile shrine and sort of arc where the kami or god of the shrine is housed. During festivals it is taken out and paraded around the town and it needed to be on place before the Yabusame could start.

The festival is conducted by the Oshika Shrine, on the north of the town but the Yabusame takes place at the much older and original shrine of the town, the Motomiya Shrine whose remains are housed in a protective steel cage. Usually when an actual kami is moved to an alternative shrine the procession is preceded by a man dressed as a guardian tengu, this time he was a big hit with both local photographers and local kids.

I have seen many Yabusame opening ceremonies during my years in Japan but this one was by far the most serious and the most elaborate, involving everything from the firing of special whistling messenger arrows to full on charges with spears and the naginata (a kind of polearm). I will post photos of the actual archery tomorrow, until then, enjoy!

ogano_yabusame_4999

ogano_yabusame_5005

ogano_yabusame_5011

ogano_yabusame_5016

ogano_yabusame_5019

ogano_yabusame_5028

ogano_yabusame_5031

ogano_yabusame_5046

ogano_yabusame_5064

ogano_yabusame_5065

ogano_yabusame_5107

ogano_yabusame_5114

ogano_yabusame_5119

ogano_yabusame_5127

ogano_yabusame_5132

ogano_yabusame_5135

ogano_yabusame_5143

ogano_yabusame_5144

ogano_yabusame_5159

ogano_yabusame_5174

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: