Today our friend Yoshi, who was on the ground in Chino over the weekend, has kindly provided a guest post. His photos and a couple videos follow bellow!
Hi! This is Yoshihiro Aruga. I’m one of those Kamisha Ujiko [parishioners] who is under the protection of the Suwa grand Upper shrine. Yamadashi festival of the Onbashira-sai festival finally took place on April 2nd and April 3rd. (For some, they had Yamadashi festival for three days.) Our neighborhood won the Honmiya-ichi log, which is the biggest among the eight sacred logs. How big is the log? It’s 3.3m in circumference and 18m in length. Yeah. It is big!!! And it’s been 96 years since the last time we won the biggest log. (Last time in 1920) It was so good and exciting to drag this big log with people from Shiga area and Toyoda area. (My neighborhood is Shiga, 四賀) I wore a happi [festival jacket] with my neighborhood’s name in Kanji on the back. I was so proud of taking part in this sacred festival. Every time we dragged the log for some distance, the process started with Kiyari song to put every one’s effort and strength together, which gives you the feelings of unison as well. We needed to make it through this sharp turn called Oomagari, which takes maneuver skills to get the log through the turn. This also had to be done with everyone’s effort in unison. Afterwards, there was one challenging spot between my grandma’s Japanese traditional storage house called Kura and the power poll which will remind you of something like a puzzle ring. Some onbashira logs hit the roof of the storage house and brushed against the pine tree when they passed the spot. After that, Ujiko people dragged the log all the way down to the Kiotoshi-zaka hill. The honmiya ichi onbashira log rested overnight for the two main events of the Yamadashi festival which would take place next day.
Early in the morning on April 3rd, Ujiko of Shiga/Toyoda area gathered at the kiohotoshi-zaka hill. Every one of them had been looking forward to this Kiotoshi log-sliding for a long time. I was so excited about the chance that I could see the event so close and be part of the event with my family (My dad, wife, 7 years old son, my big brother and his family who visited us for the festival from Tokyo).
After a day of the festival, I realized how great we can live day by day like now. My dad is in his mid 60s now. I remembered him telling his ex-coworker that he was glad to bump into him in the festival and both seemed to be in good health. I thought he was exaggerating a bit about that, but now I can understand how he felt and what he really meant now. My sister-in-law was with us last time and we made good memories from the festival, but she passed away 3 years ago. Thinking about this, I realized how important and grateful it is to be able to share this festival and this moment with my family and beloved ones. My parents might not be with me next time. My wife or my son might not be with me there to share the feelings and the moment. Or another important person might not be with me next time in 2022. This every-6-years event is not only the sacred festival but also it might be the way to confirm how grateful we can feel about our life. I think I can highly appreciate this special festival in many ways now. So I’m looking forward to enjoying the 2nd half event called Satobiki with the important people in May.
The logs followed this schedule:
Yamadashi festival of the Onbashira-sai festival(The log-dragging from the mountain to the rest point)
On April 2nd
Start at 7:30am
Pass Oomagari big turns in Anayama area
Arrive at log-sliding hill around 5:30pm
On April 3rd
Start at 8am
Hold the Shinto rites and the ceremony
Slide down the Kiotoshi-zaka or “the log-sliding hill or slope” at 9am
Cross the Miyagawa river to purify the log around 1:30pm
Arrive at Ankoku-ji temple’s Onbashira yashiki rest place around 2:30pm
On April 2nd, dragging the hon Miya 1 log to set it up for the log sliding.
The log sliding of Honmiya 1 is under preparation
Hon 2, Nakasu and Konami destroying grandma’s pine tree.
From the view of my grandma ‘s house. The medo branch hitting her Kura storage house at Onbashira festival. Go go Hon ichi