Aug 18, 2010

Bonden Festival at Obonai Shrine

Many Shinto Shrines are having a reitaisai, an annual festival this week. We have introduced the reitaisai of Gozanoishi Shrine in our previous post. Reitaisai at Gozanoishi was relatively small—held only inside of the main shrine gathering less than 20 people.

Obonai Shrine, 10 minutes walk from JR Tazawako Station

On the other hand, Obonai Shrine, another local one, gathers hundreds of crowd from Obonai Area. This festival is neither as touristic nor elaborated as in Akita City’s Kanto festival or Kakunodate’s Yama-Buttsuke festival; still, this festival is traditionally held and serves an important role in reuniting families and childhood friends who returned home during the obon week (August 13th- 16th).

Although the Obonai gathers multiplied number of crowds compared to Gozanoishi Shrine, the festival is still preserved within the community, not exposed or introduced in elsewhere.

Bondens in various sizes

A bonden is a wooden cylinder decorated with cloths and papers in various hues that has a sturdy wooden stick to hold. A typical group consists of 40-60 people including men to shake the weighty bondens (various size as in a family: parent, a child, grandchild, etc), folk-dancers, and a band of taiko drums, fluetes, and bells. They stroll around town as in parade, departing from their neighborhood, stops at almost every house along the way to get to their final destination, Obonai Shrine.

Ishigami Area, near Lake Tazawa, is an area where the traditional performing arts is well-preserved and passed down through many generations. Ishigami Traditional Performing Arts Preservation Group takes its pride to do so. And you will see it—they have fun! That is why many people flock to catch a glimpse of Ishigami Group’s performance!

Enjoy the photos, first. Next post: Videos of Ishigami Group's performance!

A groups of folk-dancers are usually consisted of young girls.

Flute players

Taiko Drums

The bands are loaded in this mini-truck.

A man reading the list of donations made to the group.

Mini Bondens.. held by the children

Lining up in front of the main shrine in the end of the festival.

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