One of the big festivals in Hyuga (besides our summer Hyottoko festival) is the October Full Moon Festival for which my taiko group is named. As such, it’s is normally our biggest event of the year. The festival is two days long and runs from 12-8pm on Saturday and 10ish-8pm (I think) on Sunday, with our taiko group performing 6 or 7 times during the festival. From noon to 9pm on Saturday, I either played in or helped with 4 different performances. I was dead on my feet by the end of it, but it was still pretty fun.
The opening of the festival includes the arrival of the mikoshi, or the portable shrine/ divine palanquin at the festival grounds. A bunch of guys carry it over from the shrine that is somewhat nearby. They then do this with it:
After that, there is the throwing of the mochi. I asked the taiko VP to explain it to me and here’s what I was able to understand: the mochi is red and white because those are lucky colors. Mochi brings happiness and by throwing it, the hope is that those who catch it will get the luck and happiness too.
During part of the festival our taiko group just provides the beat for the dancers who are the main attraction. The parade of dancers move around the roundabout in front of the station while various taiko members stand in the middle. Except, for some reason (who knows why, but I’m sure it couldn’t have anything to do with the fact that I’m foreign) I was chose to stand by myself on a little platform while I played. A few important things to note: one, the majority of the volunteers at the festival were my students. Two, they all kept yelling my name as I turned progressively more red. One of the reasons I enjoy taiko is that I can push myself out of my comfort zone by performing on a stage, but the attention is split between (and most likely diverted by) the other (much more skilled) members of the group.
Three, there was a cameraman from the local news who did not get the hint that I had no desire to be on TV. Especially not from that angle. (He was on the ground and I was elevated.) I guess I should be glad that this time I at least saw the camera and had a good idea that it would end up on the news. Sometimes there’s a camera I don’t even see that manages to find me and I don’t know about it until someone tells me they saw me on the news. I have been on TV more since coming to Japan than in my whole life previously. I also have never actually seen myself on TV as I don’t have a TV.
I had a few breaks where I was able to sneak off and take pictures.
Even though it rained for our last, and biggest, performance of the day and the audience turnout was really small as a result, it was definitely a good day.