The first time I saw a Matsuri was 10 years ago when I first came to Japan as a backpacker, in 2007. I saw the Asakusa Sanja Matsuri and thought I would really like to participate in one in the future, if I had the chance.
What I really enjoyed from seeing that Matsuri festival was the energy it transmitted, the tremendous fun people seemed to have, the camaraderie among Mikoshi carriers, the coordination and efforts among the people and ultimately, the order within the chaos that reigned.
10 years later, life brought me for work to Tokyo and, since my arrival, I was asking around how to participate in such event, even if I do not speak Japanese, nor am a Shinto religion member.
Thanks to the “real Japan on” organization and the help of my colleagues at Takeda, I was invited to join the Koen Mikoshi this year and I had a truly memorable life experience. I was able to see an angle of Japan that not many foreigners experience.
My day started at around 5 AM, when I woke up already excited about the day held for me. I arrived to the group´s Izakaya by 9 AM, where I was greeted by my host, Suzuki san, our sensei. I was welcomed warmly by the group who explained to me about the day, the traditions, our clothing, how the day´s “agenda” would look like and who of course gave me tips about carrying the Mikoshi.
They were all curious about me as a Spaniard and also in particular about my interest in the Matsuri. I explained to them that in Spain we somehow have also Matsuries, during our “holy Week” and that we call them “Procesiones”. I showed them some pictures and they were impressed to see the similarities in our cultures, despite the tremendous differences also.
When the time came to carry the Mikoshi, after the blessing ceremony from the Shinto priests, I really was excited. Would it be too heavy? Or light enough as it was so many of us? Would I be accepted by the people, despite me not being Japanese or would they show their dissatisfaction?
All my questions were answered within the first minute or two. Carrying the Mikoshi was indeed heavy work, but also loads of fun and exciting. People were welcoming me, despite the tremendous pressure and stress of carrying the Mikoshi in an organized way.
I would like to close this small article by thanking, profusely, Japan On for helping me be invited to this amazing event and to my colleagues in Takeda for helping me “real Japan on”. I will always carry this memory with me.
22 May 2017, Javier Asenjo
meet with matsuri festivals in JAPAN
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