Kenka Matsuri

Kenka Matsuri (Roughhouse Festival)

October 14-15
The Kenka Matsuri (Roughhouse Festival) or Nada Festival takes place in October in Shirahama, a suburb of the city of Himeji, Japan. Thousands flock to the shrine where the festival is held, first paying their respects to the kami, or gods, and then settling in for the entertainment: a procession of mikoshi —portable shrines or palanquins that are elaborately carved and decorated, and that can weigh as much as a thousand pounds. The roughhousing starts as teams of mikoshi-bearers jostle each other for position in the procession to the Matsubara Hachiman Shrine. Once they reach the shrine, the palanquin-bearers spin their heavy burden, tilt it to one side, raise it up high in the air, and let it crash to the ground—difficult maneuvers designed to thrill the crowd and win the kami's approval.
The festival ends when the kami are ready to depart for their spirit home. The mikoshi engage in a final battle in an open field, where thousands of cheering spectators take sides and and egg them on. Festival officials eventually call a halt to the mayhem, and the battered mikoshi are returned to the shrine, where they will be repaired and stored until the next year's festival.
See also Yaya Matsuri
CONTACTS:
Hyogo Tourism Association
Hyogo Prefectural Government Bldg. No.1
5-10-1 Shimoyamate-dori, Chuo-ku, Kobe
Hyogo, 650-8567 Japan
81-7-8361-7661; fax: 81-7-8361-7662
www.hyogo-tourism.jp/english/index.html
SOURCES:
YrJapanFest-1974, p. 13
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