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Minakuchi Jinja Shrine, which holds the annual Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri on April 19-20, is decorated for the festival. Map: https://goo.gl/maps/yZ2c6hMoGQJ2
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Minakuchi Shrine is dedicated to a god named Ominakuchi-sukune-no-Mikoto, the founder of Minakuchi.
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A mikoshi stands by to be carried during the festival.
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Food and game stalls crowd an adjacent area.
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Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri poster
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On April 19, ornate floats called hikiyama are taken out of their storehouses and prepared for the festival.
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Readying the paper lanterns to be decorated on the float for the festival eve later in the evening on April 19.
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The hikiyama storehouses line the main streets of Minakuchi. There are 16 hikiyama floats. However, only 6 or 7 of them are paraded on the streets during the festival.
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Each of the hikiyama floats are named after their respective neighborhoods.
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The hikiyama floats are about 5 to 6 meters high and 3 to 4 meters wide.
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Hikiyama floats started to appear at Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri in 1735. Initially, there were nine floats. This number increased to as many as 30 hikiyama floats.
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Minakuchi's hikiyama have four wheels and two levels. The wooden construction is complex and the carvings are exquisite.
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Unlike the floats used in Kyoto's famous Gion Matsuri, Minakuchi's hikiyama floats are not disassembled. They are stored in their constructed state. Koka, Shiga.
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By late afternoon on April 19, the festival eve, one hikiyama float arrived at Minakuchi Shrine. This is the Oike-machi hikiyama.
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During the festival eve, only one float was displayed at the shrine, while the other floats were open to display in their storehouses.
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Oike-machi hikiyama float at Minakuchi Shrine during the Minakuchi Matsuri Yomiya (festival eve). 大池町
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Minakuchi Hikiyama Matsuri festival eve at Minakuchi Shrine on April 19.
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Minakuchi Hikiyama Festival is famous for Minakuchi-bayashi festival music with flutes, taiko drums, and bells. During the festival eve, they play the music in front of their floats in the storehouse. This is Komeya-machi. 米屋町
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Food stalls during the festival eve.
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During the morning of April 20 for the Reitaisai (例大祭) part of the festival, several hikiyama floats proceed to Minakuchi Shrine. This is the Gofuku-machi hikiyama. 呉服町
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Making a turn. This is Higashi-machi hikiyama. 東町
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The Higashi-machi hikiyama is pulled toward the shrine amid a yae-zakura tree.
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Near the shrine, the floats stop here to setup the rooftop decorations.
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Each float has a different humanoid decoration called "dashi" (ダシ) on the roof.
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Putting up the rear tapestry.
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A Sugawara Michizane doll waiting to be lifted up on the Tenjin-machi hikiyama float.
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Poor guy waiting...
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There he goes, up.
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Tenjin-machi hikiyama float coming through.
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Sugawara Michizane doll on the Tenjin-machi hikiyama float.
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Tenjin-machi hikiyama float entering Minakuchi Shrine.
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Prayer in front of the shrine by Tenjin-machi hikiyama float
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Tenjin-machi hikiyama float
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After the prayer, they pull the float to its place within the shrine.
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The floats arrive one after another. This is the Tenno-cho hikiyama. 天王町
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Tenno-cho hikiyama. 天王町
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Momotaro decoration on the Tenno-cho hikiyama. 天王町
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Here comes Higashi-machi hikiyama making a wide and grand entrance to the shrine.
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They ran at full speed while pulling the float.
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Here they come running.
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Higashi-machi float's decoration was a model of Okayama Castle in Minakuchi.
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The Tamachi-Katamachi float entering Minakuchi Shrine.
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The Tamachi-Katamachi float entering Minakuchi Shrine.
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The Tamachi-Katamachi float in Minakuchi Shrine. 田町・片町
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Dragon crawling on top of the Tamachi-Katamachi float.
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Tamachi-Katamachi float's flute players. Each float's musicians practice playing the Minakuchi-bayashi festival music every night from late March.
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Group photo of Tamachi-Katamachi float.
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Gofuku-machi hikiyama 呉服町
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Decoration on Gofuku-machi hikiyama 呉服町
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Festival scene at Minakuchi Shrine
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Yuya-machi hikiyama 湯屋町
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Praying in front of MInakuchi Shrine.
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Yuya-machi float has a Little Grebe duck decoration. Little Grebe is Shiga's official bird.
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Little Grebe, Shiga's official bird.
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Group photo in front of Yuya-machi hikiyama.
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Five hikiyama are parked in the shrine.
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Gofuku-machi
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Gofuku-machi
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Tamachi-Katamachi
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Tamachi-Katamachi float
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Tamachi-Katamachi float
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Higashi-machi
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Higashi-machi
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Kids gathered to caryy their mikoshi portable shrine.
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Getting ready for the procession from Minakuchi Shrine to the Otabisho.
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Shrine priests give prayers before the procession starts.
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Chigo children
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The procession to the Otabisho leaves Minakuchi Shrine.
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Arriving at the Otabisho.
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Prayers at the Otabisho.
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Back at Minakuchi Shrine, the festival continues with Minakuchi-bayashi music performed by Tenjin-machi.
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Tenjin-machi
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Small taiko player, Tenjin-machi
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Bell player
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Yuya-machi
     
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