Why did the ALTs want to cross the road?
A: To get to the movie theater on the other side.
Q: Why couldn't the ALTs cross the road?
A: Because of all the large shrines rampaging through the
When the girls
called me up and asked if I'd like to go to Higashi-Kishiwada
to watch a movie, I was all good to go.
has the only decent-sized movie theater screen relatively
close by. Good screens, popcorn of the non-nasty variety,
real-sized movie soft drinks, great seats and a great atmosphere.
It takes a bit longer than a half-hour to get to Kishiwada
I didn't remember was that today was the day of the infamous
Danjiri Matsuri. The day when many cities take to the
streets and parade shrines through the roads, risking life
and limb for this time-honored way of paying homage to the
shinto gods nobody believes in any more.
goes quite fast at times with people running through the streets
pulling the shrines by a large rope. The large cities (I
think both Osaka and Tokyo have Danjiri Matsuri) have
shrines as big as small buildings and those are carried! They
sometimes collide into hapless spectators along the side of
the road causing injury or even death. The Danjiri Matsuri
at Higashi-Kishiwada uses smaller, rolling shrines. Much less
dangerous. (We did see one person who was injured, sitting
at the side of the road. He had on a festival coat and he
was probably one of the shrine-pullers or the guy who dances
we pull into the station we see the large numbers of people
getting on or off the trains. Since the festival lasts all
day and night, you can do this and not miss a whole lot because
it's basically the same event over and over again. The sequence
of pictures of one run of a shrine is at the left. (These
pictures are from last year's festival, as I didn't have my
trusty digital camera with me, sorry folks!)
girls knew where the movie theater was so we set about navigating
through the crowded streets. It was quite a task because
many streets were blocked off due to the parade passing through.
We had to wait a number of times to cross the streets or take
the long way around a few and duck through a few alleys.
was actually really good that we were trying to get through
these streets because it forced us to go near different
parts of the routes of the parade that I didn't get to see
year. A few times cops pushed us aside just in time
for the passing of the shrine and it's escort. The shrine
got so close we could have reached out and touched the people
standing on the sides of it! Last year Glen, Lesa, and I
were mainly above one part of the route, watching from one
of Lesa's students' apartment balconies. It was cool, but
this time I was right down where the action was...
would alternate between running with the shrines and pausing
for breath. It was pretty cool watching them getting ready
for a run. The long line of participants would all tense
up, get a grip on that huge rope, and chant. Then they would
shout and be off and running! More chanting/shouting and
the procession would rapidly make its way down the street.
The person on top of the shrine dancing furiously, waving
fans while his untied festival coat billowed in the wind.
was some action on the sidelines, too. As we waited at the
side of the road for one procession to pass there was some
shouting from up ahead in the crowd of spectators. A woman
crying out, holding a man by his shirt as he barreled his
way through the crowd. He held a purse above his head and
he shouted back at the woman. He came straight for me. I
jumped out of the way and he and the woman passed us. At
the time I wasn't really thinking. I thought it had been
a domestic situation and I didn't want to make a big scene
like I did last
year (and he wasn't hitting her). But after they
passed, we got to thinking that he could have been a purse
snatcher. Damn. Theft in Japan is not common, but it does
happen. That was probably it. A goddam purse snatcher. After
that, all the manly things I could have done danced through
my head. It's a natural guy-thing to think of things like
that after the fact. Can't be helped.
seemed like it took us two hours to get to the movie theater
(normally it would take 20 minutes). Rain came and
went for an hour or so. I didn't think to bring my umbrella
because it was nice and sunny when we left. But it did.
I wonder if they would have shut down the festival.
we got within one street of the mall where the theater was,
we encountered a problem. It seems that this was the mother
of all shrine-crossings. Drat. There was no chance at all
to get across this street. We scampered from one side of
the block to the other, like ants trapped after a child
pours an imprisoning circle of water around them (ever
do that as a kid?), looking for a way across.
tried waiting for a lull in the processions before running
across like we did at other streets. No go. The stop lights.
Nope. We stopped, bought drinks and set to survey our position.
The vendor who sold us the drinks then told us that it would
stop for a while in twenty minutes. So we waited and FINALLY
the time we got inside the mall and bought our tickets it
was dinner time so we went to this primo Indian restaurant
that the girls knew about inside the mall. It was great.
The movie, however, was lacking in multiple ways.
movie hasn't been out here for long, and Japan always
lags about getting movies, but it is my sad duty to inform
my dear readers that "The Talented Mr. Ripley"
sucks. So, PLEASE don't go see it if you're thinking about
it. Yes, yes, yes... some of you may have loved it and it
may now form the basis of your reason to exist, but for
the three of us, it was strange, disturbing, and... well,
it just sucked.
is really strange because the three of us go through all
this, take the train 1 1/2 hours, wander through the streets
aimlessly for hours, all that mayhem, and the movie we came
to see sucks.
it was a good day... a great day, in fact. Great food, great
company, and rampaging Japanese shrines.. what more could
you ask for?