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Due to financial reasons, the Suijo Hachiman Shrine Taiko Drum Dance is held only once every 5 years. I went to see it on Sept. 23, 2009. MAP
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In a local community center in Suijo, they started at 6 am to paint the bellies and thighs of 15 men called yakko. Yakko were manual laborers employed by the samurai. They carried luggage during trips, etc.
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This taiko dance is unique for having these yakko men painted. It takes about 30-45 min. to paint a belly.
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They also painted the thighs.
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And faces.
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After the paint job, they are dressed in a belly band and happi coat.
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Each man had a different painting.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Tiger man.
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Deva god
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Most were happy to pose for the hordes of retiree amateur photographers.
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Yakko posing 奴
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Suijo Hachiman Shrine. Suijo is a small neighborhood near the foot of Mt. Ibuki in Maibara, Shiga Prefecture. It is next to Ueno which is at the foot of Ibuki.
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Suijo Hachiman Shrine is where the procession will arrive and where the taiko drum dance will be performed.
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Mountain ascetic priest getting ready. It was the wives and mothers who worked behinds the scenes to make sure everyone was dressed properly.
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The procession started at the Otabisho on a narrow road near Akiba Shrine. Just follow the crowd or the sound of the drums/bells.
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The procession was headed by this small sound truck which had speakers to amplify the sounds. There is also a tall banner reading "Hachiman Jinja."
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The yakko-furi men chanted, "Ei! Ei!"
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The gourd was the canteen of the old days.
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Yakko men carried some luggage and sometimes passed it on to other men. This is Suijo's main road.
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You can see yakko-furi men in samurai processions such as daimyo gyoretsu festivals reenacting the sankin kotai procession.
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The men wore kabuki-style make-up (called kumatori 隈取り) on their faces.
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Men dressed as mountain ascetic priests (yamabushi).
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Mountain ascetic priests. Two of them blew conch shells once in a while.
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Next were the temple/shrine magistrate followed by the fukube-furi kids waving a wand attached with a gourd.
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Fukube-furi kids waving a wand attached with a gourd. Small bells were attached to the gourd. ふくべ振り
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Ondo folk dancers. 音頭
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Over 30 flute players from Suijo Elementary Schools. They practiced every day during summer vacation. 笛
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They slowly walked step by step in unison.
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The last group in the procession were the taiko drummers led by four bell ringers. 鉦
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There were about 50 taiko drummers. They also practiced every day during summer vacation. The boys drummed, while the girls played the flute.
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Taiko drummers in Suijo.
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They reached the Suijo Hachiman Shrine at 1:30 pm, taking 2 hours to walk 1 km.
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Yakko-furi men arrive.
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One after another, they slowly enter the shrine.
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The fukube-furi children gathered on the right.
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Flute players enter the shrine.
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Finally the taiko drummers. It took about 30 min. for everyone to enter the shrine.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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The taiko drum dance started as a rainmaking dance in 1671 during a drought. The dance continued until 1947. In 1965, they revived the dance, but held it only once every 5 years due to the cost.
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The next time this taiko dance will be held will be in Oct. 2014. However, a similar taiko drum dance will be held in Oct. 2010 in neighboring Ueno at Sannomiya Shrine at the foot of Mt. Ibuki.
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After entering the shrine and drumming for a while, they started to form a circle.
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First they danced in a circle.
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The taiko drummers are as young as 3rd grade (age 8).
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The young drummers performed very well.
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The drummers formed a few different formations. They lined up in front of the shrine and let the fukube-furi children to march through to the shrine.
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They also had a seated drumming performance.
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They had quickly spread four strips of straw mats on the ground for the drummers.
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The seated drumming was also interesting.
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They face the shrine.
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Suijo Hachiman Shrine Taiko Odori dance in Maibara, Shiga.
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Fukube-furi comes through (again).
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Again they spread the mats on the ground and did the seated drumming again. They did everything twice.
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Also see my YouTube video here.
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Bell ringers
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They performed for about an hour and ended at around 4:15 pm. They were scheduled to end at 3:30 pm. Suijo is lucky to have such a great spectacle of a festival.
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Cutouts for you face.
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Poster for the Suijo taiko dance.
 
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