だんじり(English)

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Danjiri Matsuri

   The Danjiri Matsuri, (float festival) is said to have its origin in the “Inari Matsuri” held in the 16th year of the Genroku era(1703).  Created by the Lord of Kishiwada Castle to pray for an abundant harvest, the festival, from its very beginning, enjoyed tremendous local support.

   The Danjiri Matsuri quickly grew in significance for the people of Kishiwada.  Gates normally barring townspeople from entering the castle grounds were thrown open on festival days.  Feudal Lords of Kishiwada looked on as each Danjiri was drawn in, and each Danjiri pulling team staged various, high-spirited performances.  In those days, “Kenka Matsuri” (The Fighting Festival) of Kishiwada, became the festival’s unofficial name as the excitement turned to competition, and Danjiri teams raced and sometimes collided, and crashed.

   With 300 years of tradition and all of Kishiwada behind it, the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri is proudly held in September each year.  35 Danjiri teams bring their sacred float on a “recklessly” swift tour of this castle town in a race of strength, endurance, and celebration.

Danjiri Terms

Hiki-dashi(Opening pull)

   The opening of the Danjiri Matsuri with high spirits and speed.  Danjiris in tow, all 35 Danjiri teams begin a mad dash around the streets of Kishiwada at the sound of the siren at 6 am.

Yari-mawashi(Corner turning)

   Working both front and rear levers in unison, Danjiri teams literally “skid” their heavy Danjiris around each street corner.  Done quickly to the beat of drums and shouts of the pulling team, corner turning is one of the most dramatic elements of the festival.

Daiku-gata(Carpenters)

   The privilege and risk of dancing upon the upper roof of each Danjiri belong to Kishiwada’s local carpenters.  The most visible member of the Danjiri team, each daiku-gata creates his own style of performance.  “Hikoki-nori”, (the Airplane dance) performed with arms spread wide and standing on one foot, is particularly famous.

Horimono(Wood carvings)

   Each of the massive Danjiris is adorned with a number of intricate wood carvings.  The carvings depict celebrated battles and records of war in ancient Japan.

Miya-iri(Going to worship at the shrine)

   In the morning onthe second day, 35 Danjiris divide into three groups and go to worship at the three major Shinto shrines in Kishiwada.

Hi-iri Ei-kou(Parade of lantern-lit Danjiris)

   In the evenings, brilliant sails of red lanterns are affixed to each of the Danjiris, and they begin a slow procession along the main parade route.  As the pace becomes leisurely, the bright lanterns and costumes, the rhythmic drums and chants, blend with the sounds and smells of the night venders to produce a wonderfully different experience- an evening matsuri.


   The citizens of Kishiwada are proud to hail the Danjiri Matsuri of Kishiwada as the greatest of its kind in Japan.  Townspeople, from the youngest to the oldest, take part in the festival with duties assigned to them according to age, and with each Danjiri team organized and managed by a particular “Cho”, (an area within the community covering a certain number of blocks).  Few examples of traditional cultural festivals of this size and of this degree of organized participation exist in Japan today.

   Each Danjiri is hand-made, entirety of zelkovawood.  It weighs about 4 tons, is 3.8 meters high, 4 meters long and 2.5 meters wide.  The draw-rope is from 100 to 200 meters in length and is pulled by as many as 500 to 1000 people.

Danjiri movie

Kishiwada Castle

The donjon said to have been built by Hidemasa Koide in the Keicho period (1596-1615).  The castle, however, was occupied by 13 lords of the Okabe family for 230 years, starting with Nobukatsu Okabe, who became the lord of the castle in 1640, and extending to Nagamoto Okabe.

Sannomaru Shrine

In the Genroku period (1688-1704), an Inari god-of harvest shrine was introduced from Inari Taisha in Fushimi, Kyoto Prefecture, into Kishiwada Castle and the lord allowed general townsfolk and farmers to worship it. The people were so pleased to be given such an opportunity that they danced their way to the shrine to the accompaniment of drums and Shamisen players.  This is said to be the beginning of today’s Danjiri Matsuri float parade.

Gofuso

This large Japanese-style go-round landscape garden, designed by Rikichi Terada 2, was completed in 1939 after some 10 years of construction.  It was built on the site of the pond and herb garden in the compound of Kishiwada Castle.

Tenshoji Takojizo Statue

Passers-by may be interested in an eye-catching temple erected at a point about 300 meters to the seaside from Takojizo Station of Nankai Railway.  This is Tenshoji Jizodo, one of Japan’s largest Jizodo temples. (Jizo is an abbreviation of Jizo-bosatsu or Ksitigarbha -bodhisattva, a guardian deity of children)  A stone monument standing on the left of the approach to the shrine carries inscribed letters reading “Tako Jizo” which are said to be written by Ikeno Taiga, a famous calligrapher in the Edo period (1603-1867).  A stone image of Jizo enshrined in a small hall on the northeast corner of the temple’s main hall is a designated cultural asset of the city.  It is the oldest stone artwork found in Kishiwada City.

Kishiwada Danjiri Museum

This new place of interest opened on September 1, 1993, in Kishiwada City.  Inside the hall, a state-of-the-art video system entertains visitors all year round with scenes of the 300-year-old Danjiri festival of elaborate wheeled floats.  The hall symbolizes the devotion of some 200,000 Kishiwada residents to one of Japanese greatest festivals.

Rows of traditional houses in Hommachi

This part of Kishiwada, extending 500 meters north to south and 200 meters east to west on the old Kishu Kaido highway, preserves the bygone images of this castle town.

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