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Marker showing the way to Kaizuten Jinja Shrine on a busy highway in Makino. Kaizuten Jinja holds the annual Kaizu Matsuri (nicknamed Kaizu Rikishi Matsuri) on April 29. Rikishi means sumo wrestler.
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The festival started with a Shinto ceremony at the shrine with two mikoshi portable shrines present. Then at 1 pm, they left the shrine and carried the mikoshi in their neighborhoods.
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Kaizuten Jinja. If you're walking from Makino Station, be careful as part of the highway along the way has no sidewalk. At night, bring a flashlight so the cars can see you. MAP
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The two mikoshi portable shrines. They are carried by the two neighborhoods (Kaizu and Nishihama) during the day (1 pm - 3 pm) and in the evening. They rest from 3 pm to 5 pm.
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At 5 pm, they started to carry the mikoshi again in their neighborhoods. This local festival features men dressed as sumo wrestlers (rikishi) carrying the two mikoshi portable shrines. This is the Nishihama group.
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They wear kesho mawashi ceremonial aprons normally worn by sumo wrestlers. These aprons are possessed by local families and passed down to successive generations.
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The Nishihama (西浜) group go through their neighborhood along the shore of Lake Biwa. About 30 men carry the mikoshi.
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They shout "Yo-ya-sa-ja!." (ヨーヤサージャー). They take several rest breaks along the way.
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Now the Kaizu mikoshi group starts their way at 5 pm. They go in the opposite direction (north) from the Nishihama group. 海津
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These photos were taken from 5 pm so they look rather dark. If you want brighter photos, go during the day. But then, the festival climax is at night when they gather at the shrine.
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Three centuries ago, the Kaizu was a port for small cargo boats plying Lake Biwa to deliver goods from Hokuriku to Kyoto. Local young men working for these boats started sumo wrestling in the shrine and making these kesho mawashi aprons.
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The festival started with these young men dressed like sumo wrestlers.
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Many of the aprons have a kanji character for dragon, tiger, or other macho themes.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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The Kaizu mikoshi proceeds along the shore of Lake Biwa, heading toward Kaizu.
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Some local people come out to watch.
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They sometimes jostle the mikoshi up and down.
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Rest break for Kaizu mikoshi.
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The Nishihama mikoshi on its way to Kaizuten Shrine.
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At Kaizuten Shrine, kids light their torches.
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One mikoshi arrives at Kaizuten Shrine.
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Another arrives at Kaizuten Shrine at about 9 pm.
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They run around the shrine with the mikoshi and shout.
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In front of a large crowd, they dramatically raise and lower the mikoshi.
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This was the climax of the Kaizu Rikishi festival.
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They did this repeatedly until they went further up the shrine.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Unfortunately, I had to leave to catch the last train home (after 10 pm) before the climax ended.
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I never got to see the torches with the mikoshi. For more info, call the shrine in Japanese: 0740-28-0051
   
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