Otsu Matsuri


Otsu Festival (Ootsu matsuri)

***** Location: Otsu, Japan
***** Season: Autumn
***** Category: Observance


Ootsu Matsuri 大津祭 Otsu festival, Otsu Matsuri

Nishi no miya matsuri 四宮祭(しのみやまつり)
Festival of shrine Nishi no Miya


Otsu matsuri poster

One of Shiga's major festivals featuring thirteen ornate floats displayed and paraded around central Otsu over two days before Sports Day, a national holiday around Oct.

The first day of the festival has the floats parked and displayed on the streets and lit up at night. The first day of the festival is called Yoimiya . 宵宮

During the first day, the karakuri mechanical puppets are removed from the floats and displayed on street level. The karakuri ningyo puppets are a major highlight of the floats and festival. The puppets perform on the floats during the procession. karakuri ningyoo からくり人形

The Otsu Matsuri has thirteen floats called hikiyama. Each one belongs to a different neighborhood in central Otsu. Each float has a name and features ornate carvings, tapestries, paintings, and other art work. 曳山

In 1596, Shiouri Jihei (塩売 治兵衛) wore a tanuki mask and danced during a Tenson Shrine festival. People liked his dancing so much that they built a float two years later and Jihei danced on it.

Tapestry designated as an Important Cultural Property.
The Trojan War (from Greek mythology) is depicted.

The second day of the Otsu Matsuri Festival is called the Honmatsuri, featuring a procession of the thirteen floats as the festival climax. The highlight are the performances by the karakuri mechanical dolls on the floats. 本祭り

They also threw chimaki to the crowd. Chimaki are small bundles of straw wrapped with a thin hand towel. They were all blessed by Tenson Shrine. ちまき

With many splendid photos
source : photoguide.jp


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On each float, there are three types of musical instruments.
The gong is played by young schoolchildren, the big drum is hit by older schoolchildren and the flute is played by students and grown-ups.

The mechanical devices are moved by four young boys, who crawl inside the doll and move the spear or the water, for example.

To turn such a large float in the small streets of Otsu, the float is stopped and then the front part lifted to drag it around at an angle to reach the next small street.

The floats are constructed each year from the parts, it takes about one week to finish them, like a puzzle with wooden joints only.

shrine Nishinomiya 四宮神社 / Tenson 天孫(四宮)神社
shrine Tenson Jinja 天孫神社

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Reference : Otsu Matsuri


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Otsu Hikaru-kun おおつ光ルくん

In memory of Hikaru Genji, the hero of the Tales of Genji.
He is even on pudding and other food items.


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Otsu Chimakichi ちま吉 for good luck
chimaki are a food item for good luck in the coming year, rice wrapped in gree leaves. In Otsu, even the tramway is green.

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

. Otsu-E 大津絵 Illustrations from Otsu    

. The Tale of Genji, Genji Monogatari ... and haiku  


Ootsu matsuri no dashi 大津祭りの山車 festival float

They are made from strong cardbord (ボール紙), like the float toys from Nagahama.
But they are not made any more.

. Shiga Prefecture Folk Art - 滋賀県 .


Related words

***** . Karakuri ningyoo からくり人形 mechanical dolls .

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