Nada Kenka Matsuri

Nada no Kenka Matsuri 01.jpg

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Nada no Kenka Matsuri,
Matsubara Hachiman Shrine, Shirahama
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The Nada Quarrelling Festival (Nada no Kenka Matsuri) is dedicated to the Matsubara Hachiman Shrine. During this fighting festival sacred palanquins (yatai) are forced to collide violently with each other. It is believed that the harder the floats crash, the more the gods are pleased. A good catch of fish and a good harvest are assured for the area which wins the fight.

 

The journey of the float begins through the village streets to the Hachiman Shrine for a blessing from the Shinto priest (kannushi) who tosses purifying salt over the team and its float and then the bearers are charged with a large amount of sake and beer. Even the most straight-laced wife overlook her husbandfs drinking during this festival and the men of the villages know all about the whole year wait for this. Now they are ready for battle. 


Shouldered by tens of bearers,
the float about the size and weight of a small car is supported on two beams carved from a single Japanese cedar. It takes a great deal of teamwork and synchronisation to move the heavy and unwieldy palanquin. Four drummers sit in the float and keep pounding out beat to enchant the team and crowd. Each village has its own symbolic colour: Higashiyama peach, Kiba green, Matsubara red, Yaka persimmon, Mega vermilion, Usazaki yellow, and Nakamura aqua.

 

The festival is said to derive from a legend of Empress Jingufs (169-269) military expedition into the three Korean Kingdoms. The clashing and grinding actions of the festival floats mimic those the sailors used to dislodge offensive crustaceans from their ships' hulls. The fighting also originates from times when different districts competed to get their mikoshi back to the home shrine first. 

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