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Friday, April 2, 2010

strong winds and Onbashira-sai

The strong winds (maximum momentary wind speed of 32.9m per second in Chiba and 31.6m per second in Yokohama) knocked down some cherry trees and disrupted the traffic in the capital sphere.

Most cherry trees have sustained their blossoms. Today, the cherry blossoms have become in full bloom in Yokohama. This weekend cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan will be crowded with people who come to see the flowers.

The Great Ginkgo(大銀杏) at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gu of Kamakura has ratooned.

In heavy rain, Onbashira-sai (御柱祭) has begun today.
It's a festival held every six years(every seven years) at Suwa Taisha Shrine(諏訪大社,Suwa Grand Shrine) in the Lake Suwa area of Nagano Prefecture. The festival continues at an uninterrupted pace for 1,200 years.

Suwa Taisha Shrine consists of Kamisya(上社) and Shimosya(下社). Each of them has two shrines.
Eight huge logs for Kamisya(or Shimosya) shrines are cut down from a mountain, run down the steep hill with people aboard and cross over a river in three days.
The logs are manhandled in the whole process. Logs' runnning down is the highlight of the festival, but it's very dangerous. So it sometimes happens that the festival results in injury and loss of life.

In another three days, four of the logs are brought into each shrine and are set up in the four corners of the shrine as pillars. Onbashira means "the sacred pillars".
It's believed that divinities dwell inside the pillars, and it's also said that the shrine parishioners reaffirm their beliefs by holding the festival.

According to one prevailing opinion, raising pillars came to be used as a substitute for rebuilding shrines such as a case of The Grand Shrine of Ise(伊勢神宮). It is thought that the Ise shrine has come to be rebuilt every 20 years because of perishability.

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