On May 4, I and some other Fukushima JETs and friends participated in a festival where we helped to carry an omikoshi (portable shrine) around the streets of Yotsukura, Iwaki.
We met up at a community hall and got changed into our festival clothes, most important of which was the happi, a jacket that is fastened at the waist with an obi or cloth belt. We then headed to the shrine and bowed our heads before beginning the fantastic ordeal of carrying the omikoshi. Some of our team were seasoned omikoshi carriers but many of us, including me, were completely new to the experience. By golly, it was heavy! But it was a lot of fun to be join the locals in this traditional festival. We marched and stamped around town while locals threw coins wrapped in cloth or tissue at the shrine we carried. We also got traditionally unsober as we went along!
At the end of the day, sunburnt and sore, we went back to the community hall for a good old-fashioned Japanese nomikai. A great experience all round, I reckon I’ll give it another go! You should try it sometime!
//this article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of the Lucky Island newsletter//