Monday, October 30, 2006
Motomiyamachi Festival and the Dashi 山車
On Saturday, I woke somewhat early in order to go hiking up near a ski resort. The weather turned out to be perfect. A nice cool breeze and blue skies prevailed after a slightly foggy morning. My friend Mie and I drove up a dirt road that followed a ski lift, until the road finally broke off and made for a separate mountain.
We arrived at a trailhead to see numerous trucks, a construction crew, and a pile of rotten wood. It turns out that workers were removing old retainers that were placed along the trail to contain erosion and work as stairs. The crews were using these gas powered hauling devices with tank tracks to haul the wood up the trails. The things might have held about half a cord of wood, while the worker stood behind it and controlled it like a lawnmower. They were loud and obnoxious, and spoiled what was otherwise a lovely day. We passed three of them on the way in and passed another 2 on the way out. It was a lovely hike otherwise, but we unfortunately missed the spectacular autumn leaves that grace the Japanese mountains.
Following this, Mie and left early. We went to a festival, where we met another friend of ours. We promised to photograph her carrying a mikoshi, which is a portable shrine carried on the shoulders, (picture an Asian version of the Ark of the Convenant). We finally met up with Enchan, a Malaysian exchange student at a local high school. I met both Mie and Enchan through my new Japanese class in this town. She was carrying a shrine with a bunch of women in the town’s annual harvest festival/parade, and had spent the previous week begging somebody to come photograph her carrying the shrine.
We got there around sunset and conditions were pretty good, and I got some great shots of Enchan and a large dashi. A dashi is a shrine carriage with wheels that is covered with glowing paper lanterns called chouchin. This festival wasn’t quite as big as the one I saw in Hanamaki with my friend Brenden. But I liked it nonetheless.
Mie and I met up with another friend, Tomoe during the evening. Tomoe spent most of the time spilling gossip about all the foreigners at a foreigner’s Halloween Party the previous night. So I spent a lot of time listening to her tell about the philandering lifestyles of people I met 2 years ago and haven’t seen since.