JAPAN PHOTOS by Philbert Ono

*Be sure to wear a mask when traveling.


Most viewed - Taga 多賀町
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Taga Taisha Shrine's Setsubun bean throwing on Feb. 3 (at 10:30 am and 1:30 pm) is perhaps Shiga's most prominent with three impressive demons (called oni) on stage acting as the evil oni to be chased away with soybeans.373 viewsFeb. 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring according to the lunar calendar. So they throw beans at ogre to eliminate the evil of the previous year and bring in good fortune. Taga Taisha had impressive ogre (called oni in Japanese) dancers from Shimane Prefecture to act as the demons to chase away during the festival.
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Taume rice planters at the Taga Taisha Rice-planting Festival. 田植女329 views
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Dance by shrine maidens on New Year's Day 2005 at Taga Taisha Shrine.. Also see the 2005 video at YouTube.287 views
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Taga Matsuri is held annually on April 22 at Taga Taisha Shrine. It's basically a procession of Shinto priests, children in costume, women warriors, and other people on 40 horses. These photos were taken in 2009.240 views
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Giving New Year's prayers at Taga Taisha shrine.239 views
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Good-looking woman warrior on a horse, Taga Matsuri, Shiga Pref.231 views
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Throwing mochi. The mochi was bare and dry, hard as a rock. 230 views
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Taga Matsuri222 views
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All the while, the PA system screamed, Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内!)221 views
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Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi! (鬼は外! 福は内!)219 views
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Buying New Year's decorations and charms.217 views
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Taume rice-planting girl at Taga Taisha Rice-planting Festival, Shiga Prefecture.200 views
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Shrine maiden holds bells and a branch of leaves. Very charming dance.197 views
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The young shrine maidens also danced, Taga Matsuri.180 views
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The rice-planting dancers stay out of the mud. They took a break twice or so, but the rice planters had to continue non-stop.178 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine, Shiga. Taga Taisha rethatched its roof and celebrated with a festival in Oct. 2007.172 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine's torii is festooned with red banners reading " Taga Taisha O-taue Matsuri" or Rice-Planting Festival. Held on the first Sunday in June at 1 pm at the shrine. MAP172 views
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The shrine priests continued their bean attack on the oni.172 views
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Oyushiki ceremony is performed to purify the sacred rice paddies during the Taga Taisha Rice-Planting Festival. 御湯式169 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.169 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.162 views
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Oyushiki ceremony is performed to purify the sacred rice paddies during the Taga Taisha Rice-Planting Festival. 御湯式159 views
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Taume girl at the Taga Taisha Rice-planting Festival158 views
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Woman warrior on horseback for the Taga Matsuri, Shiga Prefecture. 女武者155 views
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Singer with a tall flower hat.147 views
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Held during Aug. 3-5 at Taga Taisha Shrine, the Mantosai or 10,000-Lantern Festival is a night festival when numerous lanterns are lit within the shrine grounds. The lanterns are for the repose of ancestral spirits.146 views
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Otaue odori dancer at Taga Taisha Rice-planting Festival (O-taue Matsuri).146 views
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The bean-throwers for 2009 pose for a group shot with the shrine priests.143 views
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Taga Matsuri Festival on April 22, Shiga Prefecture. 多賀まつり143 views
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Woman warrior on horseback for the Taga Matsuri, Shiga Prefecture. 女武者135 views
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The oni first appeared amid smoke on the Kaguraden stage and danced menacingly. They were from a dance troupe called Inbara Kaguradan in Shimane Prefecture. 鬼の舞は、島根県石見地方の因原(いんばら)神楽団が奉納。131 views
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The bean-throwing was fun, but potentially dangerous with people pushing you around. Taking pictures is pretty risky as well. One mochi hit my camera lens. Fortunately, no damage.118 views
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Ito-kiri mochi, a famous local confection in Taga, Shiga.118 views
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For our 500 yen donation, we got a thin towel with a nice design. It is the same one worn by the rice-planting girls. Also see the Yasu Rice-Planting Festival. お田植え祭手ぬぐい116 views
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Taga Taisha O-taue Matsuri poster. I enjoyed the festival, but was a little shocked that we had to pay money to see it. There's no notice saying that a donation is required to see the festival. I don't mind paying, but it should be mentioned somew109 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.109 views
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The Taiko Drum troupe from Asahi, Maibara pose for a photo in front of the taiko bridge at the shrine.108 views
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The bean-throwers for 2009 pose for a group shot in front of Taga Taisha Shrine.101 views
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This person caught quite a few mochi and beans. Also see my YouTube video here.100 views
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Taga Taisha Lantern Festival also had some entertainment. Also see my YouTube video here.90 views
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Taga Taisha's lanterns come in five sizes. Each one represents a donation. The donar's name is on the lantern. The biggest lantern requires a donation of 20,000 yen.85 views
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Direct path to Taga Taisha Shrine hall79 views
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Lanterns at night76 views
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Dragon dance73 views
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Girls dressed as shrine maidens pose for a picture. They will join the afetrnoon procession and perform a sacred dance at the Otabisho.70 views
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Lantern-lit path to Taga Taisha69 views
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Another ceremony was held at 5 pm.69 views
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Shishimai lion dance68 views
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O-taue odori dancers67 views
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Taga Matsuri poster.67 views
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Nearing the end. However, they did not finish planting the entire paddy. They ended the festival at around 3 pm even though three of the four paddies were still unfinished.65 views
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The oni went back on stage.64 views
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The oni costumes were gorgeous and impressive.64 views
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The 70 rice planters are junior high school girls in colorful costumes. They are called Taume. 田植女63 views
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The soybeans were thrown in little paper bags, so we could still pick them up and eat them even if they fell to the ground.63 views
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Taiko drum troupe from Maibara enters the sacred rice paddy and head for the stage.62 views
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A large crowd was on hand to catch the beans and mochi. The bean-throwing is called mame-maki. They held two mame-maki sessions that day, at 11 am and 2 pm. This was at 2 pm.62 views
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Kids carrying mikoshi portable shrine. They went to the train station.61 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine torii near Taga Taisha-mae Station. MAP60 views
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Near the shrine entrance are the usual food stalls.60 views
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Muddy pants. Passers by exclaimed, "Look at their feet!"60 views
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The shrine name means, "Many Felicitations," hence its popularity during New Year's.60 views
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Road to Taga Taisha Shrine59 views
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These people insist on praying front and center of the shrine. Even though they can easily go to the left or right side of the shrine to pray more quickly.59 views
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Then the oni ran on the elevated hanamichi making threats to an amused crowd. MAP58 views
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There were no celebrity bean-throwers like at famous shrines/temples.58 views
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The shrine priests and taume girls return to Taga Taisha Shrine.57 views
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Gate to shrine56 views
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Entertainment with a dragon dance56 views
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Near Taga Taisha Shrine is the sacred rice paddies divided by a cross in the middle to form the kanji "ta" (田) which means rice paddy. This is the site of the rice planting festival starting at 2 pm. A 500 yen donation is required to go inside56 views
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They performed the Rich Harvest Taiko Dance (Honen Taiko Odori). 豊年太鼓踊り 国指定無形文化財56 views
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I also got hit on the shoulder while taking pictures. You should always look up and see where the mochi and beans are flying.55 views
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These lanterns above are the smallest ones, requiring a donation of only 1,500 yen. They are the most numerous.54 views
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Washing their muddy feet.54 views
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The good guys, in the form of shrine priests, then appeared and started throwing roasted soybeans at the oni demons.54 views
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Torii with lanterns lit53 views
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The shrine also recently got its roof rethatched. The roof looked spanking new.52 views
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The music was a mixture of taiko drums, flutes, and a gong. They performed for about 30 min. 国指定無形文化財52 views
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Mantosai sign under the torii51 views
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These lanterns hanging in the main shrine hall must be the most expensive ones.51 views
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Entertainment on stage51 views
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They plant the rice seedlings while walking backwards in the ankle-deep mud.51 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine is a short walk from Taga Taisha-mae Station on the Ohmi Railways Line. It's Shiga's most popular shrine during New Year's.51 views
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Best to see my video of the shrine maidens dancing on Jan. 1, 2014.51 views
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Taga Taisha is dedicated to Izanagi and Izanami, husband and wife deities who created the islands of Japan and many other gods such as Amaterasu, the Sun Goddess. According to the Kojiki Ancient Records, Izanagi retired in Taga, so this shrine was built.50 views
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Taga Taisha Shrine torii50 views
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Arched bridge leading to shrine gate.50 views
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As evening approaches, the crowd increases.50 views
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The Rich Harvest Taiko Dance (Honen Taiko Odori) is an Intangible Cultural Property. Also see my YouTube video here. 豊年太鼓踊り50 views
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Taume girls proceed while holding rice seedlings.50 views
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She pours sacred sake into the boiling pot.50 views
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The rice paddy is not in a scenic location. Being next to a busy road, it was quite noisy.50 views
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Homes along the way are decorated.49 views
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Each lantern is lit with a small lightbulb. (No candles)49 views
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It was a marvelous performance. Although I think it would've been more impressive if they performed on the ground beside the paddies.49 views
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Rice-planting dancers sit through the Oyushiki ceremony.49 views
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On the lower right, the guy in blue tries to shield himself from the spray of boiling water. The crowd laughed.49 views
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The paper streamers seemed like demon repellant. 49 views
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At around 1:15 pm, a taiko drum troupe from Asahi, Maibara entered the site. Official festival website here48 views
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On stage, the oni was rained upon with paper streamers.48 views
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Next, were 124 bean throwers who were born in the year of the bull. They wore a red cap.48 views
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Welcome to Taga47 views
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Festival schedule, starting at 5:30 pm and ending after 9 pm.47 views
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Main shrine hall47 views
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These girls will sing the rice-planting song. 歌女47 views
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O-taue rice-planting dancers take a break.47 views
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This paddy is unfinished, but looks pretty neat.47 views
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Approaching the main shrine hall.46 views
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The cross at the center.46 views
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The taume girls start to plant the rice seedlings to match the tune of the rice-planting song sung by the girls on stage.46 views
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Also see my YouTube video here.46 views
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After everyone is in place, on the stage, the Oyushiki ceremony is performed to purify the sacred rice paddies. 御湯式45 views
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I feel sorry for the launderer of the costumes after they finish.45 views
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Keeping the hat on seemed to be common problem.45 views
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Rice seedlings in hand45 views
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The singers stopped singing and just watched.45 views
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This unfinished paddy looks pretty messy. I think they should've finished planting all the paddies before ending the festival. Only one of the four paddies was completed.45 views
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Everyone got into position as they held a wooden box full of mochi and beans.45 views
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At around 1:45 pm, a procession of priests and the 70 rice planters entered.44 views
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Hat problem.44 views
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Besides the rice planters, there are rice-planting dancers who dance along the paddy's perimeter. They dance to the rice-planting song sung on stage. 御田植踊44 views
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In the morning and early afternoon of January 1 and 2, shrine maidens perform sacred dances (初神楽) on the Noh stage.44 views
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The taume girls enter the rice paddy at about 2 pm.43 views
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The boys in blue on both ends are holding a string to serve as a guide for planting the seedlings in a straight line.43 views
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These two girls did away with the hat which could not stay on.43 views
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I was waiting for this. Sacred dances by shrine maidens who looked to be high school girls.43 views
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Spectator tents were set up on both sides of the rice paddy. There weren't so many people. Not all the benches were filled.42 views
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On stage, shrine maidens perform the Yuminomai Arrow Dance. 弓の舞42 views
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The work continues, without the singing and dancing.42 views
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Washing their hands in a bucket of water.42 views
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The shrine priests and taume girls return to Taga Taisha Shrine.42 views
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Closeup of the crown.42 views
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Torii in front of the train station. "Otaga-san" is the shrine's nickname.42 views
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Rice seedlings await.41 views
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Unfinished work.41 views
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Two mikoshi portable shrines in front of the shrine await action. MAP41 views
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Woman warriors arrive back too.41 views
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The taume girls take their places.40 views
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The ceremony has a pot of boiling water.40 views
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She dips two green branches into the pot, then...40 views
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Taume rice planting girls leave the rice paddy.40 views
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Monument in front of the train station.40 views
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Priests and taume girls enter the paddy.39 views
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She flings the branches backward over her head, creating a spray of hot water. She did this a few times. Also see my YouTube video here.39 views
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After the Oyushiki, the singers on stage start singing the rice-planting song. 御田植歌39 views
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Now you know why some old Japanese women crouch when they walk. They used to plant rice. Of course, these days, most rice is planted mechanically.39 views
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Girl planting rice, Taga Taisha O-taue Matsuri, Shiga Prefecture39 views
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The procession encircle the paddies.38 views
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At 3:10 pm, they started to leave the rice paddy.38 views
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First the shrine priest had to shoot an arrow into the crowd, then the bean throwing began.38 views
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The afternoon procession included these two foxy ladies who supposed to be women warriors on horseback. Also see my YouTube video here.38 views
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A Shinto ceremomy was held at the shrine at 8:30 am.38 views
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The procession arrived at the Otabisho at 2:30 pm.38 views
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Shrine maidens38 views
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Huge taiko drum made a deep sound echoing throughout the place. These men soon got tired beating the drum and took turns.38 views
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A long line to the shrine is what awaited. This was a lot more people than Jan. 1, 2005 when I visited the last time.38 views
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The horses are readied.37 views
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It was then a lunch break until 1 pm. I took the time to walk around the area.37 views
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Stone bridge, closed due to snow.37 views
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Took maybe an hour to get to the shrine. MAP37 views
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This place was also jammed. Water fountain where you wash your hands and rinse your mouth for purification. 手水舎37 views
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Sacred horse. Lot of people took photos of this since 2014 is the Year of the Horse.37 views
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Large groups of worshippers pay a fee to attend prayer ceremonies.37 views
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A fire to burn old New Year's decorations and to warm yourself up. 37 views
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Most of the snow had melted.37 views
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Amazake (sweet sake, non-alcoholic) for 300 yen/cup to warm you up.37 views
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Ohmi Railways Taga Taisha-mae Station. The shrine is a 10-min. walk from this station. 近江鉄道 多賀大社前駅 MAP36 views
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This was in May, and these birds often make nests in train station and even public restrooms where people often come and go. The people protect them from predators such as crows. And their nests are too high for people to reach.36 views
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The kids wore this cushion-like padding on their backs.36 views
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Prayers to the mikoshi portable shrine.36 views
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Don't forget the mikoshi.36 views
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Banner for Totonomiya Shrine.36 views
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Totonomiya Shrine 調宮神社36 views
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Both mikoshi went over the shrine's steep, arched, stone bridge.36 views
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Phoenix atop the mikoshi.36 views
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Bringing offerings to the shrine.36 views
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On Jan. 1, 2014, a steady stream of worshippers head for Taga Taisha Shrine.36 views
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This long line lasted through most of the day. About 490,000 people worshipped here during the first three days of 2014. New Year’s prayers is called Hatsumode.36 views
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Sorry I couldn't wait in line and went to the front and prayed from the side and instead of front and center.36 views
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New Year's Day at a large shrine in Japan is such a spectacle.36 views
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Hope all or most of their hopes and prayers will come true this new year.36 views
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