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One of Otsu's Big Three Festivals, the Senko-sai is a portable shrine procession on boats going down Seta River from Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge to Nango sluice and back. Held annually on Aug. 17 by Takebe Taisha Shrine. The festival starts at 5 pm.
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Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge had four bamboo poles indicating where the mikoshi (portable shrine) boats will pass under. These photos were taken on Aug. 17, 2010, a very hot day. MAP
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Sign says that people cannot enter the middle section of the bridge under which the mikoshi will pass.
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The Senko-sai festival personifies the marine journey of legendary prince and warrior Yamato Takeru. It also prays for water safety. Yamato Takeru is one god Takebe Taisha Shrine worships.
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The east bank of Seta River near Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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The two mikoshi boats have dragon heads.
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More boats to be in the procession.
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Pier scene near Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Mikoshi boats await the mikoshi.
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These two cruise boats (Lansing and Interlaken) were chartered for the festival.
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Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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The festival started at 5 pm when the mikoshi (portable shrine) procession departed Takebe Taisha Shrine about 500 meters from the east end of Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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The procession arrived at the east end of Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge at about 5:15 pm.
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Even though this is one of Otsu's Big Three Festivals (others are Sanno-sai and Otsu Matsuri), the crowd watching was surprisingly sparse.
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Shrine maidens
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Archer
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First was a children's mikoshi (portable shrine).
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Followed by another children's mikoshi.
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The third mikoshi was carried by women.
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Nagata Megumi, Biwako Otsu Tourist Ambassador for 2010, was also in the procession. 永田めぐみ
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The two Biwako Otsu Tourist Ambassadors for 2010. びわ湖大津観光大使:井上まどか、永田めぐみ
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Escorted by taiko drummers, the main mikoshi arrives at the east end of Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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They do a few maneuvers with the main mikoshi.
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The mikoshi carried by the ladies is loaded onto the boat.
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The main mikoshi arrives at the boat pier.
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Heading for the boat.
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Carrying the main mikoshi to the boat.
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Hauling the main mikoshi onto the boat.
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The two Biwako Otsu Tourist Ambassadors for 2010, Inoue Madoka and Nagata Megumi. Selected from among 21 applicants in April 2010. For one year, their job is to promote tourism in Otsu. びわ湖大津観光大使:井上まどか、永田めぐみ
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All the mikoshi are loaded up on the boats and ready to go.
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Boat pier north of the east end of Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge. This is where the crowd was concentrated. People gave a few speeches before the boats left.
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The main mikoshi all set on the boat.
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The boat with the three mikoshi aboard is pulled away by tugboat.
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Next, the boat carrying the main mikoshi is taken upstream.
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The main mikoshi on the boat during the Senko-sai festival on Setagawa River in Otsu.
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The three mikoshi head upstream.
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All the boats first head upstream toward Lake Biwa, then they make a U-turn and sail downstream down Seta River.
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The fireworks barge can be seen on the distance.
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Lansing going to rendezvous with the other boats. Most of Lake Biwa's cruise boats are named after Shiga's sister states (like Michigan) or cities. Lansing is in Michigan.
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After making a U-turn, the boats head downstream toward Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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The crowd watching the boat procession was sparse. It seems most people were waiting for the fireworks instead. It was a hot day too.
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Heading the boat procession is the main mikoshi now passing under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Boat with the main portable shrine pass under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Boat with the main portable shrine pass under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Boat with the three portable shrines pass under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Boat with the three portable shrines pass under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Other boats follow. They all proceeded to the shrine's Otabisho near the Nango sluice on Seta River. A Shinto ceremony would be performed there before they returned back to Seta Karahashi Bridge at 8 pm.
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A yakata-bune shrine boat passes under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge. This festival reminded me of the Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka, but on a smaller scale.
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Interlaken passing under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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Lansing passing under Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge.
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By 6 pm, all the boats left and we would have to wait 2 hours to see the fireworks when they returned. Unfortunately, I couldn't stand the heat and left. Perhaps I'll see the fireworks someday.
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Senko-sai video (embedded).
   
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