Showing posts with label kawahira. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kawahira. Show all posts

Thursday, July 6, 2023



Walking up the right bank of the Gonokawa, Kawahira is the first main inlet coming into the river. From Kawahira the road heads into the mountains and then forks with the older road heading into Gotsu from behind, and the newer road heading further inland to Atoichi and onto Arifuku.

One section of Kawahira has been completely re-engineered and raised several metres, ostensibly to prevent flooding. Lots of free, new houses for the few residents remaining, and of course lots for the construction and concrete companies. Kawahira no longer has any shops but it does hve a Post Office and a Koban, a rural police box.

It also had the first proper station on the closed Sanko Line. The other two stops between here and Gotsu, Chigane, and Gotsu Honmachi, were just "halts", platforms with a small shelter, whereas Kawahira has a building, toilets, and what used to be a ticket office.

Kawahira has the first bridge across the Gonokawa after those at its mouth in Gotsu. Though my plan is to walk up the right bank I have to cross the river at this point to the left bank. From here up to Kawado, there is no road on the right bank, the only section along the whole river. The rail line is on the right bank, and back when it ran the trains were so infrequent that I have walked along the line several times in this section, but since the line closed down the tracks have become choked with undergrowth and its no longer possible to walk it.

Ive been to the main shrine in Kawahira several times for matsuri to watch kagura, and one time to watch  Omoto Kagura, the shamanic form that only survives in this area of Japan, but the most common reason to visit Kawahira is for the Tauebayashi, the rice-planting festival.

As my plan is to explore the left bank by walking downstream from the source, I hop on a bus and plan the next leg from Kawado on up. The previous post in this series "To The Source" was To Kawahira

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Tauebayashi 2016


It was great weather last weekend so I took advantage and went and visited the local Tauebayashi, rice planting festival. It had been a few years since last visiting, but I have always enjoyed it.

Things kicked off with the parade of musicians arriving, mostly drummers with 2 main kinds of drums, but also flute players and singers. Next up were the gaily decorated cows used traditionally to prepare the paddies. This was a new addition. Last time I came there was just a single "cow" which was a man dressed in a cow costume. As the cows were doing their stuff one of them took a huge dump, to cheers from the crowd.

Then there was a ritual offering to the Kami of the paddy and young rice plants, then to the accompaniment of the musicians the planting began......

The group of maidens was  larger this time too, partly due to the addition of the local High School Girls Rugby team. The musicians were also standing in the mud as well.

With so many maidens, the planting was accomplished much faster this year. There was the usual bevy of photographers who attend these kinds of events, but there were no tourists in the crowds. and a distinct lack of commercialism. A good time was had by all

Buy dokudami herbal tea from Japan

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 4


Around 2:30am the kagura group took a break, something I have never seen before. I suspect that as the village has shrunk, so has the kagura group, and fewer members means each must do more and therefore not get any breaks during the long night. The audience took the opportunity to pull out some food and spread out... All night long Mr Yama operating the barbecue grill outside had been passing free food into us.... fried noodles, barbecued squid, barbecued crab legs..... along with copious amounts of cold beer and sake, so we were full but could not refuse the offers from different groups in the audience who insisted we join them and share their food....this, for me, is the essence of matsuri....


After the break the action started up  with the Oeyama dance with lots of demons including the favorite of the audience, a junior demon...


The spiders web trapped the hero but he was of course able to free himself and kill the demon...


next up was Iwato, usually one of the first dances at a matsuri....


And then Ebisu, ably assisted by junior Ebisu, distributing lucky candy to everyone in the audience...


The penultimate dance was Shoki.......


Outside the sky was lightening and more people had been arriving...... in the countryside people get up at 5... and so it was time for the finale, Susano's battle with the multiheaded Orochi.... It was a small kagura group, so there were only four heads to the serpent, but even so they took all the dance space and spilled out into the audience. An exciting end to a great night..... time to go home to bed and rest up..... in 3 days it would be an Omoto Matsuri up in Nakano....

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Month of Little Sleep part 3


Sunday night was matsuri downriver in Kawahira, a village I always enjoy visiting because of the friendliness and genrosity of the villagers....


The hachiman dance was in full swing as we arrived around 11pm. Unusually, Hachiman and his aide were being danced by two young women. Girls and women dancing kagura is unusual. A few groups have started to allow girls to dance, but it is not the norm.


Even more unusual was the fact that these two young women were not from the village, they were not even from the area. They are students at the university up in Matsue and for the past year they have been making the 2 hour drive once a week to come down and practise in the village. They danced well and the villagers were very appreciative of their help in maintaining the traditions....


Next dance was Suzukuyama, a classic battle between the good guys and the demon.


Past midnight and the next generation of dancers and fans are still keeping up.....


Next was Yasogami, and extra long dance because of the stand-up routines and pantomime and slapstick. In this scene one of the brothers attempts to woo, unsuccessfully, the princess....


1:30am and Jinrin starts up....

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Maidens planting rice


Here are some more photos of the Tauebayashi festival down in Kawahira last weekend.


Someone asked if in the olden days the saotome, planting maidens, used to be virgins, and I have been unable to find out for sure. I suspect it may have been the case sometimes, but rice-planting rituals varied so much from region to region that it was probably not a universal thing.


Was talking with a friend recently who had just finished planting his rice and he said that according to his father during the Taisho period (1920's) it was the women who planted the rice. The men did the preparation of the paddies. Since the war the rice planting has become mechanized and the men do it mostly, though I often see old ladies out in the paddies afterwards planting on the corners where the machines can get to.


I believe in premodern Japan the whole family would have been involved in the planting.


When I first came to Japan I was told several times that all the old women I saw who walked bent over at 90 degrees were that way because of a lifetime working in the paddies. Like many things I was told it turns out to be a myth. There are millions of old women bent over who have never been in a rice paddy in their lives. It is caused by calcium deficiency. Prewar japanese diet was very poor. High mortality and low longevity were the norm until the postwar period.


Anyway, the matsuri was enjoyable again this year, though I missed the young kids playing the music.


The men, of course, have things to do..... lots of supervising and encouraging the women :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Rice Planting Matsuri


Its that time of the year again. In my neighborhood the month of May is spent planting rice. My neighbors dont go on vacation for Golden Week, the time off from their regular job is spent preparing the paddies and planting.

Down in Kawahira half a paddy remains unplanted......


Its waiting for the arrival of the procession from the local community center. Its Tauebayashi time again.


The maidens line up along the paddy and wait.....


While the farmer and his oxen do a ceremonial circuit of the paddy.


Then the drummers and singers begin to perform the rice planting song.


A man and a woman place a bottle of Sake at a sacred sprig in the center of the paddy, plant a few rice seedlings around it and ask the kami of the rice paddy to watch.....

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Along the tracks


On Sunday I went down to Gotsu for the annual Kagura Festival, but after a few hours indoors I couldnt stand it any longer... outside was another beautiful clear day and as we have had so few this month and as the good weather was not likely to last, I headed off for another walk.

I got off the train in Kawahira and headed up the tracks.


This section of the river has no road on this bank, and as it was 90 minutes or so till the next train I reckoned I could get along the tracks before it came.


There are a few abandoned farms along this side of the river....


Closer to Kawado I passed by a place that has fascinated me since I moved here, a hidden valley. The entrance is very narrow and choked with bamboo and undergrowth and there appears to be no trail in, but one of these winters when the undergrowth has died back Im going to try and find a way in...


Though its the longest river in West Japan, the Gonokawa is not well known but I have yet to see a river in Japan that is more beautiful.


I arrive safely into Kawado without encountering the train.

Kawado, the bustling commercial hub of Sakurae Town.......


Monday, November 22, 2010

Second fall colors walk part 2


After my brief exploration of the abandoned school I carried on into Kawahira.


There is not much to Kawahira,... a couple of temples, a shrine, a koban, a railway station,.... no shops.......


I climbed up to the local shrine, a place we have visited several times for matsuri.


Down from the shrine I get to the station where I have to wait 10 minutes for the next train. 5 trains a day in each direction. I get off next station up the line, Kawado.


Heading across the bridge to my village I notice it is starting to cloud over.........


For a final blast of Fall color hanging down a neighbors wall......