Current artists and myself, Katsura went to the Suga shrine located in Shima-nogita, Itoshima city to see the local annual summer festival “Nogita-gion” being held on July 13th every year!
This festival has been continued since the shrine constructed about 400 years ago, and it started for good harvest, well- being and good health in Summer.
We headed there by public transportation, taking a train to Chikuzen-Maebaru station then a 30-minute bus to get the shrine.
By walking two minutes from the bus stop, we arrived Suga shrine!
Artists bought fruit candies straight away from a stall store called “Demise 出店” in Japanese.
There were rows of Demise selling grilled squid, crape and shaved ice served with various syrups called “Kakigoori かき氷”.
When it got dark, around just before 20:00..
Many guys in shimekomi loincloths started gathering in front of the shrine precinct!
It seemed rare to have international visitors, we got many attention asking “Where are you from?” from local people, some kind gentlemen explained about this festival.
First, the Shinto precinct offered a purifying ritual for safety on this event.
Afterwards, the priest moved the God spirit from the shrine precinct to the portable shrine (Mikoshi 神輿) while lights were flashing.
Two young guys, who turned 20 years old shook out the red lion head and blue lion head while shouting “Oisa–!” as a sign to start the Goshinko-gyoretsu (the procession of the festival 御神幸行列).
A drum, flags and Tengu(a long nosed goblin 天狗) were also joined the procession.
Finally the golden Mikoshi which was carried by eight people left the the shrine precinct.
There were many people!
Guys in shimekomi loincloths headed to the coast, 500m away from the shine precinct, by pushing and shoving while kept shouting “Oisa! Oisa!”.
Big containers with full of water were prepared by the street on both sides, people threw water on the men for purifying them as well as just simply to make them cold as they were too hot by pushing and shoving.
It is said to expel evil and offer state of perfect health by shaking the lion head above children’s heads.
When they reached to the cosat, they put themselves in the sea and cleansed themselves by purified sand and visited Mikoshi to do the ritual of hand clap and have omiki (sacred sake お神酒).
This whole process repeated three times, and it is called “Oshioitori お潮井取り”. This ceremony is to perform a purification ceremony for purifying yourself, removing misfortunes like disease and/or disaster and calling fortune.
They all looked very nice!
Everyone walked back to the shrine slowly with drum sounds, meanwhile the guys were still pushing and shoving.
After the festival, We were back to Chikuzen-Maebaru by taking two taxis, then enjoyed Nagahama noodle (Ramen, らーめん) nearby the station!
It was impressive to see that all of local residents were proud of continuing this precious traditional festival.
All artists kept taking photos to capture every moment, and touched by this lively Japanese festival.
Thank you for the people who explained this festival and you who read this! I hope you get a sense of what Japanese festival looks like.
Venue: Suga shrine 須賀神社 (Itoshima Shima Nogita 2219)
Date: Every year on July 13