Schedules for the festival pulls
In September, when the lingering summer heat is still intense, the “Danjiri” speeds through the streets packed with spectators, calling out “Souriya, Souriya” as it goes. The huge Danjiri, accelerating at the signal of the whistle, turns a corner almost at right angles, and the crowd cheers with the power of its huge body. The highlight of the festival is the Yarimawashi, which has made the name of Kishiwada known throughout Japan. We will explore why 600,000 people are drawn to this town with a population of less than 200,000 during the festival season.
The festival is held every year on the second Saturday and Sunday of September in the “old market” around the city hall, which used to be the castle town. It is said that the festival began in the middle of the Edo period (1603-1867) as an Inari festival held by the Okabe clan, the feudal lord, to pray for a good harvest. It is also said that “Chaya Shin’emon,” a wealthy merchant who had seen and heard about summer festivals in Osaka, began offering a lighted portable shrine to the shrine and various elements were added to create the unique style that we see today.
“Danjiri” refers to a portable shrine with wheels, and the ones in Kishiwada, in particular, are all made of zelkova, and are rare in that they are almost never painted, with extravagant carvings and decorations on the body. In spite of its vigorous driving, the appearance of the portable shrine with exquisitely carved designs of the Three Kingdoms is truly a work of art. The oldest one has been in use for nearly 100 years since the Meiji era, and is a symbol of tradition for the people of Osaka, so it is very carefully preserved and maintained.
Movement by the power of many people
About 100 people hold the tug reins in front of them, and everyone from children to women, from the inexperienced to the veterans, join forces to run through the race single-mindedly. Two men attached to the front wheels of the Danjiri, called “Mae-boko”, act as brakes for the power. A thick pole is inserted between the front wheels and the body of the vehicle, and by applying a brake to each side, the direction of the vehicle is controlled. This is important but also dangerous, so it is often done by relatives or brothers who are in good touch with each other.
At the rear, 20 to 30 people act as rudders, using a stick or rope called a “back lever”. The speed and steep centrifugal force of the main body is such that it swings away and often rolls into the spectators along the roadside! The Danjiri itself is often so powerful that it crashes into telegraph poles and buildings along the roadside, destroying them in the process. For this reason, some houses in the area may or may not have “danjiri insurance” in place…
show their florid courage
The most conspicuous part of the danjiri procession is the “carpenters,” who leap lightly from the roof, flash their fans in both hands, and strike a gorgeous pose. But they also have an important role to play! The “big roof” in the front tells the “small roof” in the back when to change direction based on the angle and speed of the road, and the “small roof” attendant sends a signal to the rear “Now! The “hut-roof” officer sends a signal to the back lever, “Now!
In order to move the huge Danjiri, which can weigh up to four tons, freely, it is important for each of these roles to send and receive accurate signals to each other and to synchronize their breathing. Even if it is dangerous, the carpenters must trust their fans and exert all their strength in order to perform the most difficult tricks. The joy of success is what keeps the passion for the festival alive, and the audience is moved not only by the bravery of the festival, but also by the sight of the men running through the streets in unison. It would not be wrong to say that this is the coolest festival in Japan. If you experience the festival, you will not be able to help but applaud.
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Where to watch the Danjiri Ride
Many Kishiwadakko (people in Kishiwada) say that they always take time off work for the festival and ask their weddings and funerals to be postponed. The best way to see the Yarimawashi, the most popular attraction of the festival, is to take one of the “paid seats” set up here! From the stairway-shaped bleacher seats, you can fully enjoy the sight of Danjiri moving in each town.
I guess you could say that. There are other places to see the festival, but the most popular places are very crowded and the roads are narrow in many places. Check the route map to find the best place to see the Danjiri. Follow the directions of the guides and be careful not to get too close to the Danjiri or get carried away and fall over. Remember that the festival is so dangerous that there is even a “Spectator’s Guide”!
Kishiwada Danjiri Festival Schedule
Heats up from dawn! The start of two hot days
The first day of the festival, Yoimiya, begins with the “Hikidashi,” where all 22 danjiris gather. At 6:00 a.m., the sirens sound to signal the departure of the floats from each town to the Bayside Mall (commonly known as “Kan Kan Kanba”) near the Port of Kishiwada. Before the departure, a Shinto ritual is held to pray for the safety of the parade, and the solemn ceremony is definitely worth seeing. Following the morning parade through the town, a parade to Kishiwada Station is held from 1:00 p.m.
One by one, the Danjiris pass through the shopping arcade to reveal themselves, and the “townspeople” dressed in matching happi coats shout hail to the Danjiris, who are then honored with a huge cracker specially made for the festival. Balloons and potholders are thrown up, and carpenters on the roof sprinkle festive prizes to the spectators, adding to the festive atmosphere. The crowds are quite large, as the only place to watch the festival is along the roadside. It is a must-see, but be prepared.
Run as fast as you can! A veteran’s show of skill
On the second day, the “miya-iri” towing begins at 9:00 a.m. at the “Hongu” shrine. Taking a different route from the first day, 15 cars will head for Kishiro Shrine, said to be the birthplace of the Danjiri, and 6 cars will head for Kishiwada Tenmangu Shrine. Among the “Yarimawashi” points, the most popular and powerful one is “Konakara-zaka (small hill)” just before the shrine on this day. The speed of the floats is even faster as they run up the steep hill, and they stop before the curve in the city center, whereas the floats run up the hill in a single bound. This is the highlight of the festival, and the highlight of the festival, where the men get into the spirit of the festival.
Let’s look at another aspect of the festival
Miyabi nocturnal appearance
After nightfall, the “toonire-hiki” is also a must-see. On both days, the floats are redecorated around 7:00 p.m. and decorated with as many as 200 red lanterns, and unlike the daytime floats, they make their way through the town and back to their own town with a gentle gait. The graceful appearance of the lanterns, lit up in a heartwarming light, gave me a new impression of the “movement” and “stillness” of the festival. The doors of the Danjiri hut are closed and the long, hot two days of the festival comes to an end as the taiko drumming continues.
The Women’s “Danjiri Festival”
Based on the superstition that the zelkova tree on which the danjiri is built is inhabited by a goddess, and that women riding on it will bring wrath…, this festival, which was once forbidden to women, is now undergoing a change. Women are essential to pull the ropes of the Danjiri, which runs at full speed, and their hairstyles are eye-catching as they wear happi coats and hachimaki (a type of headband). The women’s “spirit” is unique to women, as they have solved the problem of how to tie their long hair tightly for the intense festival by making many fine braids, and also pursue the beauty of their appearance.
Braiding is also called “hell braiding” or “guts braiding” because the hair is pulled very tightly, but this custom started several years ago by a local hairdresser, and now people talk about braiding when they think of Danjiki. Let’s applaud their beauty. And even though they don’t show their faces, every household is busy with their own festivities. Just for this period! The housewives are busy entertaining the large number of relatives and friends who return to their homes.
New experiences at the Danjiri Kaikan
In the pavilion that recreates the streets as they once were as a castle town, festival shows are shown on a large screen, and the oldest Danjiri “Kamiyacho,” which was built in the Edo period when it was retired, is on display. There are also unique danjiri from different parts of Kishiwada City and miniatures and other materials on display, so there are many new discoveries to be made here. And that longed-for “carpentry experience” is available! You can pose on a model of a large roof, watch a 3D video from the top of the roof, and even touch the bells and drums. If you get tired from the heat and crowds, this is a good place to take a break.
“Kishiwada Danjuro” is a traditional Japanese festival in Kishiwada.
Access to Kishiwada Danjiri Kaikan: 10 minute walk from Kishiwada Station on the Nankai Main Line, 8 minute walk from Takojizo Station
Hours: 10:00-17:00 Admission: Adults 600 yen (300 yen for elementary school students and younger)
Access to Kishiwada City
Because of extensive traffic regulations, trains and walking are recommended.
Access to Kishiwada City
Take the express train from Namba Station on the Nankai Electric Railway Main Line and get off at Kishiwada Station (about 30 minutes). However, the area in front of this station is extremely crowded, so some locals recommend entering the town on foot from Takojizo Station (one stop away) or Izumi-Omiya Station (one stop before). It is also about a 10-minute walk (1.3 km) to the west to the Can Can Bayside Mall, where there are many pay admission halls and restaurants.
Sightseeing from the town
Sightseeing from overseas
Citizens’ groups such as the Kishiwada International Friendship Association have set up a “Danjiri Information” for foreign residents at the Silver Human Resources Center by Nankai Kishiwada Station (1 minute walk from the south exit of the station, under the elevated railway tracks).