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Saga Matsuri

May 28 was the Saga Matsuri, a local Japanese festival in the Saga area of Kyoto, north of Arashiyama. Many neighborhoods have local festivals like this, and of course there are the larger, more famous festivals like the Aoi, Jidai, and Gion Matsuri.

Several portable shrines with a local deity inside (mikoshi) are taken out and carried around the neighborhood. Many residents and businesses offer drinks: water, sake, beer, tea; and in gratitude the members perform a dance with the shrine, rocking it back and forth and generally making a lot of exuberant noise.

Here's a short video I shot of everyone dancing with the mikoshi.

Notice how new people come and relieve the others holding the shrine. It's really heavy, so you don't want to hold it for too long ;-) But there is definately a macho element to the festival.

The shrine also has lots of metal noisemakers which you can hear. The chanting doesn't really mean anything, it's just a way for everyone to stay in rhythm.

After walking and dancing around all day (I did not dance, but I pushed the mikoshi when they fitted wheels on it, in between stops), I had a nice Japanese dinner with my neighborhood folks, and lots of beer - much more than I was willing to consume :-)

My neighborhood participants.

This was my second time participating in the Saga Matsuri, the first was before the pandemic. All in all, its a fun time, and a way to better know your neighbors.