Thursday, July 28, 2011

The strange and weird festivals of Japan.

Isn't this pic cute?

In real life.

Actually this is a festival in Nagasaki, where they dance a dance called the 鳥刺し踊り (bird hunting dance), a comical dance where the men slap their butts as they prance around with a pole for catching birds. This practice of celebrating bird hunting has been going on for 300 years since the edo period (1603-1868), when bird hunting was an occupation, for food and for leisure, not unlike those ahpeks who keep birds in cages. Bird hunting was also featured during Mozart's times (1791) in his opera, The Magic Flute.

Papageno, the bird hunter in The Magic Flute with a bird cage on his back.

If you asked me, the dance actually looks very kinky :x Exposed back + butt! And the front is only covered by a piece of cloth. So enticing. And would be hot if they had hotties instead :x Tell me how not to be yummy? Don't think so? Look at the video.

The next strange festival takes place in Shizuoka, the 川名ひよんどり (kawana hiyondori) (a slurring of hi odori=fire dance), where they burn half naked young men. What is with them always in the state of undress during festivals.

Like this.

And this.

First, as a preparation for the actual act, they let the guys purify their bodies and minds in the cold river (水垢離). And this occurs during winter. Must be really cold. Then they tie them up and roast them for about 10 minutes. The fire is supposed to chase away the bad spirits. Or the guys will be charred. Whichever comes first. You just have to endure. The tying part IS LIKE SM -_-;; And being swept by fire looks really painful. I'm quite sure this is where they get those ideas from. Though milder and certainly different in origin and objective, somehow this reminds me of fire walking and pain inflicting practices, like thaipusam and Lenten ritual in the philippines.

Lastly, there is the 雨宮神事 (amamiya kamigoto = amamiya festival) in nagano, a once in three year festival. So it's really rare. Why is this festival strange? Because they hang people upside down 7m from a bridge, after they perform a lion dance. This is also recognised as a cultural heritage.

And then they make sweeping movements against the water with their heads. Supposedly like dancing. But you're all bundled up! How to dance like this? More like struggle :x

The decision of who to hang is being done three years before, by drawing lots. I really donno if it's considered lucky and honorable if you were picked. What happens if got pick and you are those that faint when you are hung upside down?

Apparently, this festival has been going strong since the Heian period (794-1185). Legend says that the wife of a lord was so jealous of his concubine that she died in agony (whaaaaat?) and thus created a curse. To appease her spirit, the practice was started. Seriously, hanging someone in that way helps? If it did, it would have ceased haunting thousand years ago :x Anyway, the next one is scheduled to take place in 2014. Won't it be fun to go experience the local spirit?

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