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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Ofune matsuri
Boat Festival. A festival on May fourth and fifth held at Susuki Miya in Matsumoto, Nagano Prefecture. Participants from the nine villages of the former Satoyama area bring out nine ofune made of boat-shaped wooden frames from which cloth is draped. Pulling the boats decorated with warrior figures, they process to the accompaniment of cheerers (ohayashi). Within the precincts of the shrine (keidai), the nine ofune boats receive oharai (see shubatsu) purification from the priests (shinshoku). There are several traditions of ofune festivals in the Azumi region of Nagano Prefecture. At Hotaka Jinja in Hotaka Township, Azumi-gun, the reisai (main annual festival) is also commonly referred to as an ofune festival. Participants pull five large and small roof-covered dashi (carts, floats), boat-shaped and decorated with human figures and plaited leaves and branches of Cryptomeria trees. There are festivals for the transference of kami at Harumiya (spring shrine) and Akimiya (autumn shrine) of the lower shrine (shimosha) of Suwa Taisha in Lower Suwa Township, Suwa–gun, Nagano Prefecture. On August first, the kami is transferred from Harumiya to Akimiya, while the transference from Akimiya to Harumiya is on February first. The August festival, which is called the ofune matsuri, is the grander of the two. A boat-shaped structure woven with brushwood, wrapped in cloth and carrying two life-sized human figures of an old man and woman is pulled by several thousand Suwa ujiko (parishioners) from Harumiya to Akimiya. A procession of the kami object proceeds to Akimiya along a separate sacred path. When the ofune reaches Akimiya, the brushwood boat is broken up, the figures of the old man and woman are placed upright next to a Sumō wrestling ring, and several bouts of Sumō are dedicated to the kami.

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