Hey and hello! The rainy season has finally ended and the summer is here in full force! Which also means overwhelming heat and a constant flow of sweat trickling down my back and forcing me to do laundry almost every day!
Something that goes along with Japanese summer is ‘matsuri’! Matsuri means festival and they come in many shapes and forms. Today I would like to share some pictures from the yearly festival held at Tateiwa Suigen here in Minamioguni.
I have mentioned Tateiwa Suigen many times but let me give you a quick reminder! Tateiwa Suigen is a beautiful area in Minamioguni consisting of slightly more than 40 households. The area is known for its spring source that produces many tons of natural mineral water each minute and doesn’t only provide the tap water in my home but also helps create one of the major rivers that provide water to a large part of south Japan.
If you type in Tateiwa Suigen in your navigator you will be guided to the Tateiwa Suigen “Park” where anyone is free to draw water and pay their respects to the water deity, the god of water in Japanese Shinto religion (sorry for offseason pictures but please bear with it!).
This same place is also where the festival is held! (And we are back on the right season!)
Let’s get started!The festival which is held between 10:00 and 15:00 (excluding the afterparty!) begins with a Shinto ritual where officials, locals, and visitors can take turn paying respects to the water deity.
You might have noticed the yellow buckets placed where the water gushes forth in the pictures above?
They are filled with drinks being cooled down by the natural spring water which keeps a constant temperature of 14 degrees all year long! And yes, there is beer and other alcohol in there. You might have heard that the Japanese are weak when it comes to alcohol but that doesn’t mean that they don’t enjoy knocking back a beer or ten! Especially when it’s festival times!
The cool spring water isn’t only good for keeping drinks cold but also perfect to keep your body temperature in check in the summer heat!
The festival is just as a festival in the countryside should be, a slow event where people relax in the shadow of the trees, enjoying time with family and friends, eating good local food and drinking good sake! And I shouldn’t forget, even though I said it’s a slow event, it’s packed with performances and entertainment!
First off, Yoshiwara Kagura!
Kagura is the oldest among Japanese dance performances and its recorded history dates over 1300 years back but is thought to be much older still. The dance tells the stories of Japanese mythology and was originally performed to please the gods themselves. This is just a short clip to give you a feeling!
Yoshiwara Kagura, as the Kagura performed in Minamioguni is called, has actually been appointed as a Nationally Designated Important Intangible Cultural Asset. Yoshiwara Kagura is an important cultural heritage that the people of Minamioguni passionately work to preserve and protect.
Maybe the young generation who grow up watching these atmospheric performances will be inspired and take part in carrying this tradition forward for another 1000 years.
Here we have another “traditional”(???) performance, the so-called, Shovel-shamisen! Shamisen is a traditional three-stringed Japanese instrument but this is the first time I’ve seen a Shamisen performance with shovels and spoons… But in a way, I would say that this makes it even more impressive!!
It doesn’t end here though!
What could be more fitting for the summer heat than Hula dance?!
I feel we might be slipping further and further away from Japanese traditions… But who cares!? It’s entertaining, it’s fun, it’s MATSURI!
But don’t worry, I have another thing to share that fits right into Japanese traditions! And even though it’s popular around Japan there is no better place to experience it than Tateiwa Suigen in the summer!
Soumen Nagashi! Soumen are thin wheat noodles that are popular to enjoy cold in the summer. And to make it into as fun of an experience as possible you make a looooong bamboo slide, connect it to a never-ending stream of natural spring water and then you let the noodles flow! Time to show off your chopstick skills and catch some noodles!
And if you feel stressed about fumbling with the chopsticks and not getting your money’s worth, then no need to worry! You can always swallow your pride and start scooping from the buckets at the end where all the missed noodles gather up!
Finally, to finish the day off…
And as you can see, we had winners in all age groups!
But no matter how much I waited and kept hitting numbers I couldn’t seem to go all the way. The kids kept winning one after another and all I could do was watch sadly as they ran off excitedly to get their hands on my prizes… I mean, THE prizes… Sorry!
Until… Finally!! When the staff started to pin-point people who still hadn’t got Bingo to ensure that no one was left behind… BINGOBINGOBINGOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Happily, I ran off to get my…..
Pack of tissues!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YES!!! I have never been so happy to get a pack of tissues in my life! The blue color even matched my tears of happiness. I promise to only use them for special occasions! ❤
And with that said I will settle for today! Today’s festival was an event that I have been looking forward to a lot and it certainly didn’t let me down. These are the kind of days you live for. Relaxing times with nice people, beautiful weather, good food, kids playing all around you! Tateiwa Suigen Matsuri is held every year in Minamioguni so if you have the chance next year you should come by. It doesn’t matter if you bring your family or if you come alone, you are bound to make new friends and have a great time! And I will definitely be there so you already have one person to talk too!
Oh, and one more thing, I mentioned it last week as well but I’m having quite the hectic period now so I can probably at most post once every two weeks or so! Sorry about that and I hope to be back on a weekly scheadule as soon as possible!
Love and thanks as always for reading!!