Monday, August 26, 2013

Once every 60 years: the Honkaicho.

Time travel back to 3 months ago.

Bridge of fishing boats!
I headed back down to my 2nd hometown, Kamogawa, for the Honkaicho - to make a complex introduction short - a local festival held once every 60 years.

The main point is that can only go to the shrine located on a tiny island off of Kamogawa's coast during this festival (pictured in the far right of the above photo).

Apparently back in the day these boats were actually used to cross over to the island.
To be quite honest, I've forgotten a good amount of background info on the festival. You can find a slightly longer description here though.

Point is, it was amazing to be there for such a momentous occasion. And apparently much of the townspeople (and other people from the surrounding areas) felt the same way too, looking at the photo below. This is by far the largest crowd I've seen in Kamogawa, and I am unsure I will ever see one of its size again.

Mayor being interviewed by the media (somewhere around the center-right?) 
Braving the epic queue.
It was still relatively early in the day, but an acquaintance was kind enough to let me and my friend know that the line to get into the shrine was growing by the minute! It stretched all around the pier.

Thankfully, I'd bought some snacks for the wait.
As I was strolling around the festival, I had run into another acquaintance (perhaps how I most enjoy such events - seeing how many friends/acquaintances I can run into) - a warm couple who run my favorite sushi place in the city. I bought this, a dish I think they especially thought up for the day! It was roll sushi with sangayaki (fried minced fish burger?) inside. Noms.

But I also got to enjoy some lovely scenery during the wait (despite the excruciating heat):

Satisfying my usual obsession for signs.
Kamogawa from an angle I may never have the chance to capture again!
Entry to the shrine.
And so finally, after a 3 hour wait...we were almost there - the elusive Itsukushima Shrine (not to be confused with the one in Hiroshima).

Tiny main hall.
Photos weren't allowed within the main hall itself, so we'll just have to make due with this. The sacred sculpture that is only viewable to shrine visitors during the Honkaicho was displayed at the alter.

Mission complete!
Since we'd accomplished our main goal - getting to the shrine - we set off for a bit more adventure. Who knows if we'd be able to withstand the 3 hour wait to get to the shrine in another 60 years (or if we'd even be around to take the chance in the first place).

...and for the record, the wait had apparently swelled to 5 hours by the time we left the shrine. Eep.

Katsugi-yatai between the vivid fishing boat banners!
After that, we managed to witness the festivities - basically a more extravagant affair than the annual Godosai in September. "Extravagant" in that the festival participants paraded up and down the pier without taking any or very few breaks.

And my favorite - the mikoshi! (although this is a different one than the one I usually help carry).
After all that excitement, finally my friend and I were starved and exhausted. We headed over to our mutual love, the spectacular Rosso Bianco! (Again I think I've potstd about this multiple times, but just in case here is a past post with some content about Rosso.)

Hamburger steak topped with bamboo shoots! Mmmmmm.
As a special treat, cheese cake and coffee jelly - on the house!
 DROOL. Oh Rosso, how I miss thee already!

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