First experience of “Yaegaki Shrine Gion Festival” Chiba Prefecture
Yaegaki Shrine Gion Festival
My first Japanese festival experience was when I moved to Shodoshima Island in Kagawa Prefecture due to work relationship three years ago. Invited by the local people to join the festival. This is the first festival experience. After that, I became interested in Japanese traditional culture, history, rituals and I began to feel the charm of the festival.
First of all, I will introduce myself briefly.
My name is Mesut DOGAN.
I was born and raised in Turkey. I married a Japanese lady 6 years ago and came to Japan. Live in Yokohama now.
Last weekend, I joined with the members of RealJapan’On to carry a shrine of the Yaegaki Shrine Gion Festival in Chiba Prefecture. In Japan, I have participated in various other festivals, but it is the first time that a “water festival” where water is pouring to participants.
 
I left the house in Yokohama at around 5 o’clock in the early morning. I met with them in Tokyo, got in the car with everyone RealJapan’on and arrived at the festival place in about two hours later. It is a beautiful place with scenery spreading in the countryside, and it is popular also for people who like to go to the seaside. As soon as we arrived, we borrowed a HANTEN (traditional short coat for festivals) of “Higashihonmachi” from the local people and greeted the people at the shrine. It 

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was a very warm welcome.
Just watching the festival and carrying the shrine at the festival is completely different.
We could not make it in time for the Omikoshi departure ceremony at 10 o’clock. Walked towards the direction in which the shrine was already carried, and decided to carry a shrine on the way. Higashihonmachi’s Omikoshi (portable shrine) was big and very respectable Omikoshi. Also, I was surprised that there were more people to participate than the local festivals I had done so far. Then we start walking with participants while they singing songs of Higashihonmachi and hitting drums and blowing whistles in front of the Omikoshi.
When we started to carry the shrine, I was taught how to give a shout. That cheer was “anriyadoshita”.I did not know what it means. Then after a while, the first pouring began. While carrying a shrine in the hot weather. Suddenly cold water poured from above and the voice when I was surprised that “anriyadoshita” “What !!! What’s that!?” probably realized meaning. The cold water pouring into the very hot weather was pleasantly shocking. Wake you up and gets healthy, it seems like an adult’s water play and it’s a lot of fun.
Where to take a shrine off on the way just for a short break, drinks and food are prepared.
I think that there is nothing more delicious than that rice ball I ate at that time.
 
We took a trip around the city with the Omikoshi and returned back to the shrine in the evening. In this place, everyone was doing well energetically until the last minute and the precincts were very exciting. At that time, I was called to enter the middle of the front of the Omikoshi. I think that was a Japanese style greeting, felt deeply grateful and full of satisfaction which never feels it by only watching the festival.
Thank you very much for everyone in the local “Higashihonmachi” who took care of us, and RealJapan’on.

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Mesut Dogan

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