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Held during the weekend in mid-March, the Sagicho Matsuri is a dramatic parade and clashing of 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats. On the first day at 1 pm, 14 Sagicho Festival floats gather at Himure Hachimangu Shrine near Hachiman-bori Canal.The festival has 13 handmade floats featuring the year's Chinese zodiac creature. 2018 is the Year of the Dog, so all the Sagicho floats have a dog. Short bus ride from Omi-Hachiman Station. These festival photos were taken on March 17–18, 2018.
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A week before the festival, we visited the studio of two of the Sagicho floats. This is one of them at Miyauchi-cho. 宮内町Each float is named after the district that it represents. It could be one or more neighborhoods in the city. A volunteer group for each float takes 2 months to make the float at their studio.
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Miyauchi-cho had almost finished their float. They just had to assemble the parts. The main piece is the dog of course.
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I was told that out of the 12 zodiac creatures, making the dog was the most difficult and making the dragon was the easiest. The dog is difficult because it's the most familiar animal to humans, so people know exactly what a dog supposed to look like. People can get very critical if the dog doesn't look like what it supposed to look like. Details like the curvature of the legs, etc. So they refer to a thick photo book of all kinds of dogs to make sure everything looks real.
Making the dragon is easy because no one has seen a real dragon. So people don't know exactly what a dragon supposed to look like. It doesn't have be so exact like a dog.
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The dog fur is made of jute fibers (黄麻). Very realistic. They had only one person meticulously put on most of the dog's fur.They could've had a few people help, but then the fur would look uneven because each person would do it differently. But they still wanted to train the younger folks to do it, so the trainees were allowed to put fur on the less noticeable spots on the dog.
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I asked the float's leader about the cost. I was told that they spent ¥200,000 for edible float materials and ¥800,000 for festival expenses even with free labor.They work on the float in the evenings after work or school. They solicit donations from neighborhood residents and sponsors.
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I also asked what was the most difficult thing about making the float. He said, "deciding on the float's design." Their committee members make their own designs with their computers and present them to the committee. Apparently, it takes a lot of haggling and time, but once the design is decided, the rest is pretty mechanical and easy.
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The float decorations are all made of edible materials especially grains (soybeans, black beans, adzuki beans, sesame seeds, etc.) and seafood (dried bonito, kelp, aoi-nori seaweed powder, cuttlefish, dried fish, etc.).
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This is the base for the dog. All edible materials. Notice the flower's yellow stamen in the center.
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The flower's stamen were made with these small, banana-shaped chocolate candy. As long as it is edible, they can use anything on the float, even modern junk food.Banana-shaped chocolate candy for a flower's stamen, such great imagination. Year-round, they always look at edible things and imagine what it can be used for on a Sagicho float. Compared to the old days, they now have a lot more edible choices and colors to choose from to make the float decorations.
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Float support made of straw was built in the garage.
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We visited another Sagicho float studio at Suwai-cho. 仲屋町
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The 13 floats don't coordinate their designs. They don't share their design plans with other floats.So no one knows who will make which breed of dog until the festival day. Didn't see any chihuahua nor dachshunds.
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Suwai-cho float's dog almost done. The eyes still unfinished. 仲屋町
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Float base for the dog. Each float design has a design concept or story behind it.
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Materials for float-making at Suwai-cho. 仲屋町
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On the first day (Sat.), the floats are paraded along the streets as they arrive at the shrine and undergo judging for best design. Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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This is one of the three children's floats which are smaller than the normal floats. Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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Omi-Hachiman's Sagicho Festival originated in neighboring Azuchi-cho town where Oda Nobunaga had his magnificent castle. Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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When Oda Nobunaga died and Azuchi castle destroyed, people in Azuchi moved to Omi-Hachiman and restarted the festival here. Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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On the first day (Sat.), the floats are paraded along the streets as they go to Himure Hachimangu Shrine and undergo judging for best design. The floats are works of art and made of edible materials mounted on a straw and wood base. Sanwakai float. 参和March 17, 2018
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Sanwakai children's float. 参和会
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Sanwakai children's float. 参和会
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Sanwakai float. 参和会
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Sanwakai float. 参和会
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Sanwakai float approaching the shrine. 参和会
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Sanwakai float decoration was very elaborate. 参和会
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They shout "Cho-yare!" or "Masse-masse!" It's related to food.「チョウヤレ」「マッセマッセ」
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Dai-ikku float. 第一区
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Float bearers spin around while shouting "Cho-yare" or "Masse masse!" Dai-niku float 第二区
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Dai-niku float 第二区
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In front of the torii gate, two floats join up.
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Dai-ikku float's Tosa dog. 第一区
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Dai-niku float 第二区
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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This one has a picture of the famous Azuchi Castle which is in Omi-Hachiman. The castle was built by warlord Oda Nobunaga in the 16th century. This festival originated in Azuchi. Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Another festival highlight are the cosplayer float bearers. Long before cosplaying became a fad in Japan, the festival had costumers. According to legend, warlord Oda Nobunaga disguised himself lavishly when he joined in the festival. Modern people took that as a hint and started cosplaying in the festival decades ago.
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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All the floats gather at Himure Hachimangu Shrine. Sagicho Festival,
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Float leader directing the float bearers carrying the float. Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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This is in front of the shrine where all the floats gathered and lined up. Judges examined the floats to determine the winning float designs.
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Azuchi Castle on Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Dai-niku float 第二区
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Dai-ikku float. 第一区
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Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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Suwai-cho float. 仲屋町
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Suwai-cho float. 仲屋町 (Visited this float's studio a week before.)
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Shinmachi-dori float. 新町通り
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Miyauchi-cho float 宮内町
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Honmachi float 本町
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai children's float. 紫竹会
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Dai-Juikku float's Tosa dog. 第十一区
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Grounds of Himure Hachimangu Shrine which holds the Sagicho Matsuri. 日牟禮八幡宮
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This is in front of the shrine where all 13 floats gathered and lined up. Judges examined the floats to determine the winning float designs.
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Great spectacle and chance to see all the floats during this time. Later in the early afternoon, they will leave the shrine for a procession around the town.
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Some drinking and partying on the side.
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Float design judge.
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From 2 pm, the procession starts and the floats start to exit the shrine.
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Miyauchi-cho float leaving the shrine to join the procession. 宮内町
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Shinmachi-dori float leaving the shrine. 新町通り
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Suwai-cho float leaving the shrine for the procession. 仲屋町
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In front of the torii and Hakuunkan. Uwai-cho float leaving the shrine. 魚屋町
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Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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Sanwakai float. 参和会
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On Sat., the first day of the two-day festival, there is a procession from 2 pm. It is led by these shrine officials and the shrine priest on horseback.
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Shrine priest on horseback and behind him on another horse is the mayor of Omi-Hachiman who serves as the Honorary Chairman of the Sagicho Festival.
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Watch your step!
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Cleanup crew.
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Ikeda-machi float. 池田町
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会 Lots of peas and beans.
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Along the procession route, the floats take a break every once in a while. Shichikukai floats. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Ikeda-machi float. 池田町
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Cuttlefish slices and little silvery fish. Ikeda-machi float. 池田町
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Dai-Juikku float. 第十一区
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Dai-Juikku float's Tosa dog. 第十一区
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This was the winning float design. Another Tosa fighting dog. Sure looks like a lot of work went into this. I didn't have a chance to ask what the yellow braids were made of. Dai-Juikku float. 第十一区
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Miyauchi-cho float 宮内町
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Miyauchi-cho float 宮内町
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Honmachi float 本町
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Honmachi float 本町
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Honmachi float 本町
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Honmachi float 本町
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Shinmachi-dori float. 新町通り
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Shinmachi-dori float. 新町通り
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Suwai-cho float. 仲屋町
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Dai-ikku children's float. 第一区
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Dai-ikku float. 第一区
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Dai-niku float 第二区
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Dai-niku float 第二区
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Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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Sanwakai float losing strength. 参和会
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Sanwakai float. 参和会
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Dai-niku float sold this hand towel and mini Sagicho for ¥500. 第二区
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Dai-niku float sold these hand towels for ¥500. 第二区
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March 18, 2018: On the festival's 2nd day (Sun.), the floats are paraded from 10:30 am and arrive at the shrine by 2 pm. All the floats all gathered at the shrine again (a large parking lot) and held float battles (kenka). The floats paired up and rammed each other and pushed until the other float toppled.
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Dai-Juikku float's Tosa dog is a fighter. 第十一区
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Cute doggie pouches. Suwai-cho. 仲屋町
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The float battles are prone to damage the float decorations. A few dogs lost their heads or broke their legs in the battles. All those intricate works of art, only to be soon destroyed. But no one really cares.
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This clashing (or crashing) of floats is called "kenka" (fight). It lasts until 5 pm in front of the shrine (parking lot).
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Shinmachi-dori float. 新町通り
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Suwai-cho float is stuck against the wall. 仲屋町
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Ishin-cho float. 為心町
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Dai-Juikku float's Tosa dog. 第十一区
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Shichikukai float at battle. 紫竹会
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Ikeda-machi float. 池田町
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Uwai-cho float partying. 魚屋町
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Float leader directing the float bearers carrying the float. Jukku-kai float. 十区会
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Jukku-kai float at the shrine. 十区会
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Jukku-kai float takes a fall. 十区会
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Dai-niku float takes a fall. 第二区
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Dai-niku float's dog with no head. 第二区
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Uwai-cho float takes a fall. 魚屋町
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Miyauchi-cho float won 3rd place in the float design competition. 宮内町
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Dai-ikku float. 第一区
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Uwai-cho float. 魚屋町
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Uwai-cho float vs. Dai-ikku. 魚屋町
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Lots of straw on the ground, serves up lots of dust.
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Dai-ikku float. 第一区
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Shichikukai children's float. 紫竹会
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Shichikukai children's float. 紫竹会
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Ikeda-machi float. 池田町
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At 6 pm, the children's floats are torched first. Sanwakai children's float is set afire.
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No one cares about the damaged dogs because the floats would all be burned in the end. It's a fire festival and a variant of the dondo-yaki fire festival that burns New Year's decorations in mid-Jan. The fire supposed to make you young again.
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Shichikukai float. 紫竹会
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Dai-Juikku float in the shrine at night. 第十一区
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Honmachi float arrive at the shrine for the fiery festival climax.
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The larger floats are burned from 8 pm. They burn 5 or 6 floats at a time until 10:30 pm. Miyauchi-cho float. 宮内町
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Since they burn multiple floats at the same time, you can't photograph them all burning.
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They run around the burning float.
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Line for the bus back to Omi-Hachiman Station.
   
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