Oi Festival

Oi festival is celebrated every year on October 16th. The festival’s roots go back to the year 866. 

This year was the first time in four years the festival was held. The past three years were canceled due to coronavirus.

The day starts early. At 7:30 a.m., I and all the other participants from our area go to the neighborhood meeting house. We listen to speeches, eat edamame, and drink a little sake. Then, we go to Oi shrine. We get there a little before 8:30 a.m. Now, there is nothing to do for a long time. We all stand around talking and shivering in the cold morning air. (The main topic of conversation is why do we need to arrive so early?)

A picture from the courtyard of the shrine looking out through the entrance gate.

This is one of two shisa that guard the shrine. Two shisa standing across from each other guard the entrance to all shrines in Japan.


Eventually, more people show up and we start putting together the omikoshi, or portable shrine. This is what we will push around town. We tie the portable shrine to two long wooden beams. While we are doing that, the shrine’s priest holds a ceremony that includes a traditional dance to bless the festival. After that, taiko drummers play. 

These girls perform a dance for the ceremony before the festival.

We attach the portable shrine to these long wooden beams.

We tie the portable shrine to the beams with ropes.


When we finish putting the portable shrine together, everyone picks it up on their shoulders. We heave it up and down several times to get into the ‘festival spirit.’ Then, we carry it down the steep stairs that lead out of the shrine. This part is very difficult because it is really heavy. When we get it down the stairs, we set it on top of a square metal frame with wheels. This allows us to push the omikoshi instead of carrying it. After that, everyone eats lunch, which is provided by Oi shrine. 

This is the part where we carry it down the stairs. It’s very difficult.


Finally, it is time to go. It’s about noon now. All of the participants (this year about 80-90 people) work together to push the portable shrine to all the different neighborhoods around town. The taiko drummers drum in the back of a big truck that drives ahead of the omikoshi. We also have some police to help with traffic. Each neighborhood has its own community meeting place where they set out food and drinks for us. Some neighborhoods are famous for the food they prepare every year. For example, one place prepares sabazushi; my neighborhood prepares oden. We stop in each neighborhood for about ten minutes to eat and drink and talk to people we haven’t seen since the last festival. Maybe you can imagine how drunk everyone is getting as they have sake and beer in each neighborhood! Before we leave each stopping point, everyone thanks the people of the neighborhood for the food and drinks.

This is a picture of our route around town. The yellow bubbles show all the places we stop for food and drinks. The total distance is about 14 km. Along the way people come outside their homes to watch and cheer as the omikoshi passes.

This is a picture of us pushing / pulling the omikoshi through town. We have to be careful not to hit people’s houses when the streets get narrow.

These are the taiko drummers that travel with us.

When the omikoshi comes to your neighborhood, you get to climb up onto it and direct everyone to cheer, “WASSHOI!”

Here is a place where we stop and eat food and drink.


The day is finished when we come back to Oi shrine. It’s getting dark now. We take apart the portable shrine and everyone goes home. Everyone says, “See you next year!”

Oi Festival” に対して2件のコメントがあります。

  1. Michiko Shikata より:

    You must be very tired but you could enjoy the festival very much after three years’ pandemic, couldn’t you?
    The weather was fine, so the Omikoshi should be extremely beautiful with reflecting the sunshine. For my regret, I couldn’t join that festival because that day was my duty day of Kameoka guide association.

    1. Nate's English より:

      Yes, I thought the omikoshi was very pretty in the bright autumn sun! That’s too bad you were busy that day…I was looking for you when we came near the station!


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