- festival started in my region, Igura
As you may know, there have been the so -called Ombashira Sai, or the Holy Pillars Festivals, around Nagano prefecture.
The festivals are held in many of the shrines named Suwa Shrine.
They are to replace the giant wooden pillars standing within the precinct of each of the shrines, and held every 6 years.
The biggest one held is for the Suwa Taisha Shrine near the Suwa Lake.
However, there are many other Suwa Shrines in Nagano pref., and in my village of five thousands population, there are two Suwa Shrines.
The two held each of their Ombashira Festival on the 3rd and the 4th.
A suitable wood was carefully selected in the woods in the mountains, and after the purifying ceremony , had been cut ,pruned, and been laid on the ground.
It was in the early April, and today on the 3rd May the Holy Pillar is to drag by all the villagers through the village path towards the Suwa Shrine.
Can you see the rope laid on the ground? It is tied to the wood to be dragged.
The flaglike things are strips of paper tied to poles,and are waved to encourage the draggers.
They also are held up when occasionally the holders sing a typical song to hail the Holy sprit of the mountain and the draggers.
Dragged by the villagers from 8’oclock in the morning, , the Holy Pillars,both for the adults and for the children, finally reached the front gate for the shrine at 4’clock in the afternoon. Now they have to be dragged up this steep slope.
- Finally, the Torii gate for the shrine
With the help of a tractor, adjust the pillar to its rightful position.
- discussing where to tie ropes for the people who are to climb on the pillar with its ascending
- “Take time. Safety first!”
- two men climbs onto the pillar as it goes ascending
The man who climbed at the front looked really nonchalant, but I know his wife was staying away from the site shivering…..poor my friend!
It was already dark when finally the last pillar stood erect and we hailed,” Banzai!” ,and sang the typical grace to god.