• 14 . 05 . 05
  • As festival season draws to a close, I take a look at the largest and most local one, Ogaki, right outside my branch.

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Floats And Stalls

Festival season is rapidly coming to a close, so I thought I’d better make the most of it and see one more while I had the chance. Ogaki, the town where I work, has its festival today and tomorrow and it is the biggest one I’ve been to. Despite working there, I’ve seen virtually nothing of the town itself as my branch is actually in the train station. Apart from a few brief sojourns to buy food now and again, I hadn’t ventured into the city proper until today. Most of the time I’m guessing it’s pretty much the same as most of the rest of modern Japan, lots of buildings, quite featureless and a kind of grey urban sprawl. For the festival though, there were hundreds of brightly coloured stalls lining every available sidestreet and pavement, mostly selling food, though also cheap plastic toys and games of skill.

Like Ibigawa, it seemed like the entire town had turned out. After work some of the teachers went out to watch the parade. It was a lot like the others, but still nice to see again the community spirit that all of us here agree seems to be lacking in our own countries. We managed to find some locals to explain to us what the floats actually symbolised as well, so we had a better understanding of the meaning this time round.

For the purposes of the festival, some of the temple and shrines’ grounds had been commandeered for stalls and games of chance. Jesus wouldn’t have been impressed had it been his temple (though it’s academic here; most Japanese, despite professing otherwise, are devoutly secular or apathetic, or both). Pragmatically speaking, space was needed for more stalls and, randomly, a haunted house (though it was like one of those I remembered from childhood, not the awesome one at Fuji-Q), so space was taken. It will be restored, I’m sure, to its religious purposes tomorrow.

Ironically, I probably won’t get the chance to see Gifu’s own festival, despite living here, and I don’t actually even know when or where it will be held. But, I’m fairly certain I can predict what will happen now, so it’s not a great problem. For those people who get the chance, seeing a town’s festival is a great sight. Seeing four or five in a week though would start to get boring, I think.

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