We survived the Sanno Matsuri at Hiyoshi Taisha shrine in Otsu, Shiga, yesterday.
It dates back 2300 years, according to participants. The portable shrines now so common at Japanese festivals have their roots here.
The festival is long, done on a massive scale, and intense. It is three days, every year on April 13-15, weekend or no weekend, rain or shine.
There are 7 portable shrines and roughly 80-100 men per float.
We carried the floats down through the villages that make up Sakamoto, arriving at Lake Biwa in the early afternoon.
At that point, the floats were placed on a barge and sailed around the lake for two hours.
Following that, we carried them back up to the shrine.
In addition to the length of the festival, the singing - a call-and-response style of rural folk song - the cold, the most impressive aspect of the festival is the energy of the participants.
The sheer wildness of the festival was like nothing we have ever participated in.
Hiyoshi Taisha shrine is not far from Sakamoto Station on the Keihan Line, or a fifteen-minute walk from JR Hieizan-Sakamoto Station on the Kosei Line.
Tags Japan Touring Kyoto Cycle Japanese