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Shimoniikawa Shrine, site of the Sushikiri (sushi-cutting) Festival on May 5. The shrine is a 20-min. bus ride from Moriyama Station. 下新川神社 MAP
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Inside Shimoniikawa Shrine setup for the Sushikiri Matsuri held on May 4-5, but May 5 is the main event. The formal name of the festival is Omi-no-Kenketo Matsuri. 近江のケンケト祭.
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Shimoniikawa Shrine worships a god named Toyoki-iribiko-no-Mikoto who was the first son of Emperor Sujin 崇神天皇, Japan's tenth emperor. 豊城入彦命
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Sitting in the front were the shrine priest, in red, and the man in black who was the chairman of the local neighborhood board 自治会長. The ceremony started at 12:30 pm.
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First the two men are served various food and drink for a meal.
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The festival got its start when the legendary Toyoki-iribiko-no-Mikoto crossed Lake Biwa from the west shore to Moriyama on a log raft to subjugate the eastern provinces. A local villager then offered him pickled carp caught in Lake Biwa as an offering.
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Drinks
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A red sake bowl is brought.
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Sacred sake is served.
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Finally the main dish.
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A wooden cutting board with 10 funa-zushi each.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Oh yummy! Looks delicious. There are ten fish, but the boys cut only three fish during the ceremony. We could readily smell the fermented fish.
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It takes 3 or 4 years to ferment the fish with salt and rice. It's Shiga's most famous delicacy. In the old days, it was common for people to make their own funa-zushi. Today, few make their own. Most buy it at the supermarket, fish shop, etc.
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The two local boys (age 14 and 15) arrive for the sushi-cutting ceremony.
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First they moved the fish to the left side in unison.
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Then very stylishly, they wield their long metal chopsticks and a large knife to start cutting. Everything was done in unison between the two boys.
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The first cut.
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At times, the priest would give advice to the boy.
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All the while, the boys were heckled by men (mikoshi bearers) sitting on the steps in front. I didn't realize it then, but the heckling was part of the ceremony.
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How spectacular can a pair of boys be, cutting up a fish? This festival always receives a lot of publicity on TV and newspapers, but I didn't see that many people attending. Not so many photographers either, although NHK TV was standing next to me.
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Glad that this isn't a summer festival when all the flies would flock to this stink fish.
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The shrine priest gives advice. Also see my YouTube video here.
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The smell of the fish wafted through the air.
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Wiping off their sweat.
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Local dignitaries attending the event.
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Sake poured for the shrine priest.
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The shrne priest refuses another round of sake.
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Sake poured high for the mayor of Moriyama, one of the dignitaries watching the festival.
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Mayor of Moriyama drinks the sake as Uno Osamu, one of Shiga's National Diet members, looks on.
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Sushikiri Matsuri (sushi-cutting festival) in Moriyama, Shiga Prefecture.
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This was my favorite part of the festival. Funa-zushi was offered to everyone at the festival. Some people refused though. I love it. It was salty. Goes great with alcohol.
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The Sushikiri ceremony was over after about an hour. Then was the Naginata procession.
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Kanko-no-Mai dance, a kind of lion dance. かんこの舞
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Child musicians
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Within the shrine grounds is this monument indicating that legendary Emperor Jimmu worshipped here. 神武天皇遥拝
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Monument indicating that Emperor Meiji worshipped here. 明治天皇遥拝
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Mikoshi
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Portable shrine
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They also danced in front of the shrine. For more info about the festival, call the shrine at 077-585-3380 (in Japanese).
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Marker indicating a boat landing at this street corner across from the shrine.
   
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