- The biggest shrine in Musashi province, Okuni-mitama-jinja Shrine
- The mystery in the darkness
- The main attractions at the festival are the lanterns, drums, dashi and mikoshi.
- Welcoming God
The biggest shrine in Musashi province, Okuni-mitama-jinja Shrine
The festival held in the darkness of night called Kurayami-matsuri, is one of the carnivals at the Okuni-mitama Shrine. The shrine was established about 1200 years ago, before Tokyo came to be called the Musashi Province. Around the time when the shrine was built, the government administration office called Kokufu was also built in the same area. The shrine and its surroundings were the center of Musashi Province about 1000 years ago.
Currently, the shrine keeps large drums, mikoshi (portable shrine), and some old sacred treasures. Keyaki trees, or Japanese zelkova trees, were dedicated about 900 years ago and are still lined up peacefully in the shrine.
The mystery in the darkness
The festival in the darkness of night, Kurayami-matsuri, is held between April 30th and May 6th during Golden Week (http://tadaimajp.com/2015/04/public-holiday/). The most famous event is the Mikoshi-togyo. It’s a ritual parade of 8 mikoshi that are lined up in queue. There are other events such as a beauty competition for Dashi (parade floats) decorated with lanterns.
This festival is trying to reproduce the moment when the enshrined God, Okuni-mitama was summoned and also to celebrate the newly born spirits of the darkness. The origin of this ritual is derived from the custom of praying to the newly appointed provincial governor for a large harvest and peace in Japan during the New Year.
The main attractions at the festival are the lanterns, drums, dashi and mikoshi.
Lanterns, drums, mukoshi, and dashi also take a big role to liven up the festival. Mokoshi is a kind of portable shrine carried during the parade. During this festival, a total of 6 mikoshi from 6 different shrines in Musashi Province get together and are carried in the parade. Lanterns are decorated with flowers, making them look like umbrellas. Dashi is a kind of portable stage where people play drums and flutes during the parade.
Participants are divided into groups according to the area they live in and are dressed in ‘happi’ jackets in different colors, each color signifying their area of residence. You’ll see people in so many colorful ‘happi’ jackets at the festival, and it’s all part of the fun.
On the night of May 5th, the festival comes to a climax.
Gods gathered from 6 different shrines from all over Musashi Province, will stay at the Noguchi family house just as the enshrined God, Okuni-mitama did when summoned. These Gods will be revived and revitalized throughout the night. At the temporary shelter, mocked up like the house of the Noguchi family, the owner of the house will welcome the Shinto priest and the provincial governor with food and sake and give appreciation for their work and show appreciation in welcoming Gods.
Gods that stayed at the house will then return to each of their respectable shrines the next morning.
Period: April 30 – May 6
Location: Okuni-tama-jinja Shrine
Access: Keio Line Fuchu Station 10 minutes walk from