I have seen so many festival in Shikoku. I thought the Saijo matsuri is one of the most beautiful festival.
On October 16th at 3:00 p.m. the floats gather at the banks of Kamo river where the festival’s finale takes place. With all the floats lined up to see off the Mikoshi that is going to Isono Shrine for Omiyairi, a beautiful scene begins to unfold. The setting sun behind the spectators reflects off of the river and shines onto the floats creating an impressive view. Regretting the end of the festival, a float from the Kobe district tries to obstruct the procession of Mikoshi in an apparent effort to prolong the festival.
When at long last the Mikoshi have crossed the Kamo river the festival comes to an end.
Saijo fesival, Ehime pref., Japan
Date : 11th – 17th October
Place : Kamo Shrine, Ishioka Shrine, Isono Shrine and Iizumi Shrine, Saijyo city, Ehime pref., Japan
Ten luxurious drum floats decorated with gilt and silver threaded cloth are dedicated to the Iizumi Shrine to give glory to the end of the Saijo Festival.
On the 16th the procession is unstructured except that they meet floats from Isono Shrine at the Tamatsu Bridge at around noon and some of them perform Kakikurabe during the night.
On the 17th in the very early morning they do Miyadashi followed by a Kakikurabe performance at 4 locations in the parishioners’ villages, and then in the evening the 10 drum floats and Mikoshi perform “Kakikurabe” on the riverbank in front of Iizumi Shrine.
On the evening of the 17th, the 10 drum floats and Mikoshi perform Kakikurabe on the riverbank in front of the Iizumi Shrine.
It is worth seeing the Kakikurabe performed among drum floats which are uncommon in other regions. The fashion in which the 10 drum floats are lined up and are promenaded around is truly a grand and appropriate way to conclude the Saijo festival.
Lasting for two days, Isono Shrine Festival is one of the biggest events held in the whole of Saijo City. It begins on October 15th at 2:00 am with the sacred Omiyadashi (taking out of the Shrine) and ends on October 16th at 4:00 pm with the sacred Miyairi (returning to the Shrine). The highlight of the festival includes more than 80 Danjiri and Mikoshi floats which are paraded around the area.
During the festival more than 100 lanterns are lit from dusk until dawn to reproduce a scene from old Japanese picture scrolls. The origin of this event remains unclear, but it can be found on some documents dating back to Edo period, in the year of Horeki 11th (1761 according to the Christian calendar).
An Introduction to Saijo Matsuri
Saijo Matsuri is a grand festival held every October in the city of Saijo in Ehime Prefecture. In this harvest festival with over 300 years of tradition, enormous hand-carried floats called danjiri and mikoshi are presented to local shrines. There are more than 150 floats in the city.
This website introduces Saijo Matsuri, with a focus on the Isono Shrine festival in the Nakano neighborhood, the biggest in scale of the many festivities in the city. There are 81 danjiri and mikoshi offered to Isono Shrine, making it the largest festival of its kind in Japan and worldwide.
In addition to danjiri, mikoshi, and taikodai float parades, Saijo’s fall festival features many traditional Japanese attractions like shishimai (lion dance), yakko-gyoretsu (a dance parade performed in traditional costume), and kagura (ancient music and dance).
At the heart of these activities are the danjiri, great wooden floats standing approximately 5m tall and weighing 700kg. These structures are shaped like house frames and carried by 15-20 revelers during a two-day parade through the city to the beat of taiko drums, bells, and festival songs. Danjiri are typically named for the neighborhood that they represent.
Danjiri floats are decorated with carvings depicting Japanese motifs, famous figures like Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and scenes from historical literature such as the Legend of Three Kingdoms. Some danjiri are also painted.
At night over 100 lanterns are affixed to each float, and the light from the candles creates an ethereal atmosphere completely different from the daytime. Watching Saijo Matsuri is like seeing a picture scroll unfurl and come to life before your eyes.
The history of the danjiri
Danjiri is a general term for floats used in festivals, and in this region these floats are divided into two categories: danjiri and taikodai. Taikodai are used in the Iizumi Shrine Festival and in the autumn festival of neighboring Niihama City.
The origins of the danjiri in Saijo are historically unclear, but it is said that the head priest of Kichijo-ji Temple, which was associated with Iwaoka Shrine, saw the floats of a shrine in Kawachi Province (modern day Osaka Prefecture). Upon returning home, he decided to construct similar structures from bamboo and offer them to the shrine.
Saijo’s festival floats are first mentioned in official documents of Iwaoka Shrine in 1757 and in the records of Isono Shrine in 1761, and it is believed that danjiri existed during the Kan’en era (1748-51). Since then, danjiri have been newly constructed or renovated repeatedly all the way to the present day. Among these, some danjiri have been preserved for over 150 years and, due to their historical value, are designated important cultural properties by the city of Saijo. These floats are Koyashiki (1840), Himi Tera-no-shita (1855), Moto-uoyamachi (1862), Konyamachi (end of the Edo period), and Benzaiten (1864).