Mitarai Gulf Fireworks Festival 2018 – Autumn Event in Yamaguchi Prefecture
At Hayaosa Hachimangu Shrine Autumn Festival (早長八幡宮秋祭り) in Murozumi, Yamaguchi prefecture, citizens pray for the safety in the ocean and abundant catch of fish during the first Sunday of October every year. Murozumi residents carry Mikoshi – a small shrine, with yelling “Enya! Enya!” That is why some people call this festival “Murozumi Enya.” The audience of the festival will feel the power of citizens in Murozumi, which is a local port town. In this article, I am going to describe the history of Hayaosa Hachimangu Autumn Festival and the way to enjoy it.
The origin of the festival dates to the Muromachi period. In 1444, a ship with Holy Spirit arrived Hayaosa from Oita prefecture, and residents enshrined it in Murozumi. The citizens have been celebrating this event by practicing the return of the Holy Spirit to Oita in Mikoshi and ships since those times. At most Japanese festivals, people use Mikoshi to take the God back to the original place, which is one kind of the common practices.
At Hayaoasa Hachimangu Autumn Festival, citizens use 11 Mikoshi, and each Mikoshi has its name. From the first, Daiha (台若), Tori (鳥居), Ishitouro (石燈呂), Agyou (阿形) dog, Ungyo (吽形) dog, Udaijinn (右大臣), Sadaijin (左大臣), Okagamiyama (御鏡山), Hihune (曳舟), Odoriyama (踊り山). On the Odoriyama Mikoshi, there are a lot of children. These Mikoshi were created as small portable shrines, so people say that “the shrine is running around the town!” when they see citizens carry Mikoshi. This style makes Hayaosa Hachimangu Autumn Festival unique in Japan.
Citizens carry Mikoshi with Holy Spirit from Hayaosa Hachimangu to Koryo Port. After people finish putting Mikoshi in ships, they depart to the coast in front of Matsubara Otabisho, which is the place to preserve the God. And then, people perform the ritual on the ships. At that time, you can see a spectacular view of 24 boats in one row. After that, people on the boats throw mochi to the audience (it is called mochi maki in Japanese). You might get lucky if you catch a mochi! It is fun indeed! When all practices are finished, people take Mikoshi back to Hayaosa Hachimangu.
Date: the first Sunday in October every year
Place: Hayaosa Hachimangu Shrine
Address: 3 Chome-4 Murozumi, Hikari-shi, Yamaguchi-ken
Homepage (Japanese Only): http://enya.cho-chin.com/index.html
Access: by Sanyo Shinkansen (山陽新幹線)
Get off shinkansen at the Tokushima station
Take the train to Sanyo Honsen Iwakuni direction
Get off the train at Hikari station
Take the JR bus to Murozumi Park direction
Get off the bus at Murozumi
Hayaosa Hachimangu Autumn Festival is so unique because of its style of carrying more than 10 Mikoshi, circling the ocean on ships with the Holy Spirit, and its history. This shows that people in Murozumi cherish their God, the ocean, and the lovely and beautiful hometown. Also, the people appreciate the sea that provides an abundance of seafood. You can feel how important the ocean is in Japan as a small Island country if you join this festival!
All images are courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation
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