Wednesday, October 22, 2008
One recent Saturday I had to work, so I had the previous Thursday off. My painting teacher had sent me to Nagasaki to buy a stone and carving tool so I can make another inkan (seal to sign my paintings), but it was an exercise in futility. However, the trip wasn't a complete bust, as I was able to attend part of a festival called "Okunchi" in/around/for (?) Suwa Shrine in Nagasaki. It's held every year October 7-9, and since they don't change it to make sure it falls on a weekend, many people have to work and therefore miss out. Here are the torii (archway/gate/s) leading up to Suwa Shrine, where this dance took place. I think there were 2 other locations around the city where representatives from a select 7 machi (towns or sections inside the city).
Groups from the machi do a dance or perform with a large boat-like thing...
Here they are pushing it up the stairs to the very small! stage area in front of the temple.
Here is a look at the crowd in the stands watching the performance. If you look closely, you can see many people have a cloth over their head to keep the sun off of them...it's still pretty hot in Nagasaki!
Here is a look at the performance - and behind that, a glimpse of downtown Nagasaki. At this part in the performance, the men work together to spin the boat - it really gets the crowd going wild (I think I must be missing something, but it DOES look pretty hard). There are also some guys holding poles with globes on top - I think a combination of percussive music and these pole guys help to direct the guys pushing/pulling the boat. I think this whole thing is a really interesting way to build community spirit :)
Feel free to comment if you've got any experience with the Okunchi festival!