FOR THE EXPLANATION ABOUT THE AUTUMN FESTIVAL IN FUJINOMIYA
History of Fujinomiya Autumn festival
The origin of the Autumn Festival was a celebration based on people showing their appreciation to Kami(deity for a rich harvest). It is mentioned in “Fujisanki( a book written during Heian era) that officers and regular people had a similar festival in 875. We are not sure if this was the beginning of the Autumn festival, but you can say it has been held for many years.
There is also a diary written by the time- honored Sake brewery owner at Omiya cho( a community near Sengen shrine) as proof of this festival. It said there were the floats being pulling around at the end of Edo era. Sengen shrine has been center of this Autumn Festival,although the shrine is far older. It will be 1200 years in 2006 and is the base of all Sengen shrines in Japan.
In Meiji era Omiya Youth Group was established and its main focus became Festivals. This encouraged the people of Fujinomiya to become more involved through the generation. From this interest many floats( Dashi and Yatai) were built. This expansion made the Festival bigger and more lively. Later, the Ohmikenshi Company( a big raw-silk company)branched out into Omiya-cho stimulating the areas’ economy. Omiyacho expanded into many communities and the number of floats increased. The Autumn Festival became more popular. The prosperous Hanamachi,or Geisha brought shamisen (three stringed instrument) to the festival music. This changed the style of music and dance. Later a form of competition and fighting between Floats made the festival smaller. Some communities disliking the new tradition of fighting gave up their floats and put practicing festival music(ohayashi). In 1986 a New Youth Committee of Autumn Festival was initiated. They reformed the festival and started a float competition that was preplanned and controlled.
Many communities take part in the Festival again now. You can see as many as 20 floats pulled around the streets today.
SOME INFORMATION ABOUT FUJINOMIYA AUTUMN FESTIVAL
People who worshipped at Sengen shrine got together and shared their happiness and thankfulness for rich harvest by playing music (OHAYASHI), pulling around floats and dancing from November 3rd to 5th as a part of annual festival of Sengen shrine. Now everyone can join the fun.
Miyamairi(visit to shrine) on November 3rd
The representatives from all participating communities visit Sengen shrine to pray for the happy end of the Festival and receive Hei( a kind of religious symbol made of white paper) in return. In front of main shrine is full of people and special music is played. Hei is placed in front of the station of each community which is a sign to start pulling the floats.
Kyodo Saiji(joint festivity) on November 4th
Floats from all communities line up at main street and hold a joint ceremony. Special music is played together and people dance the Fujinomiya original dance. All floats are pulled around in the streets and they compete against each other by playing their own original festival music. That leads to the climax of the festival
This is music played with a big drum, two small drums, flutes and bells while the Yatai or Dasi is being pulled around the streets. The distinguishing trait of fujinomiya-bayashi is having no pauses between the music .It is played successively until a stop-sign is made by one of the members.
Seriai ( competition)
Some Yatais or Dasis, which meet on a narrow lane have a spirited competition to decide which one’s rhythm is better. In the older days the streets were very narrow and two floats couldn’t pass. The winner has right of way. Nowadays the Yatai music team practices for one or two months to prepare for the competitions.
FUJINOMIYA AUTUMN FESTIVAL AND DASHI
Our autumn festival originated in he thanks for a goodharvest. This is true of many Japanese autumn festivals. I’m not sure,but it is said it dates back to the Heian era in the eighth or ninth century. This is a float or dashi. In the early 19th century this dash came to participate in the autumn festival. This parades the streets,pulled around by young people. Year after year it has increased in number, and now we have 20 dashis in the whole city. On the moving dashi, six people play Hayashi with three kinds of instruments, three drums ,a bamboo flute and two bells. In the course of dashi young people pulling a dashi take part in a kind of competition,seriai,on the narrow road. In the past,older days every road in the city was very narrow. There ,dashi almost scraped another when they passed. so the dasi poor in playing Hayashi had to make way for another better dashi. But some team fought because they didn’t agree with the judge’s decision. So now all the judges always announce draw to avoid fighting. Originally Seriai was a competition that they compete with each other for the techniques to play Hayashi.