Showing posts with label tauebayashi. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tauebayashi. Show all posts

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

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.....

Friday, May 14, 2010

Rice planting maidens. Saotome.


Saotome, rice-planting maidens from last weekends Tauebayashi Matsuri up in Atoichi.


Saotome appear in all kinds of rice planting ceremonies and rituals all over Japan. The link between agriculture, fertility, and sexuality was common to many rites in agricutural societies, though as far as I know in Japan the explicit link still exists at only one shrine up in Asuka.


Nowadays the maidens come in all ages.


It is difficult to overstate the obsession Japanese have with rice.


To the horror of any Japanese who know me, I don't like the plain, white, sticky, stuff!

Barbarian that I am.


Actually for most japanese, rice only became the staple food relatively recently. For most of japanese history the common people subsisted on a porridge made from various grains. White rice was reserved for special occasions.


The rich lived on white rice, and it is believed emperors and lords sometimes died from beri-beri.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Atoichi Children's Tauebayashi Matsuri


I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Atoichi Children's Tauebayashi Matsuri.


Following a small ceremony in front of the school, the procession made its way to the rice paddies that belong to the school.

For those whose only experience of Matsuri is at the major sites in the towns and cities, you are missing a very important aspect of matsuri, and that is community. In village matsuris there is a real festive atmosphere not based on alcohol. As at the rest of the time in these remote communities, people are friendly to visitors and one genuinely feels like a guest.


All the generations were involved, even the school principal, seen here on the drum.

The children come from the elementary school as well as Junior Highschool, Highschool, and even a couple of college students.

While Tauebayashi may have its roots in days long gone, it, like Taiko drum groups, Yosakoi dancing, etc are mostly a late twentieth Century phenomenon.


The festival in Atoichi is in its sixteenth year, and I would say it was a success in its aim of keeping alive the sense of village community.


As we were leaving we were given a couple of bags of mochi, rice cakes, made from last years harvest.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Atoichi Elementary School


On Sunday we drove up into the mountains to the village of Atoichi where we found a wonderful example of an old, wooden school building. It was built in 1931, and apparently that makes it one of the oldest.


Most Japanese schools, especially post-war, look like abandoned prisons or factories (which is pretty much what they are in my opinion), but all the wood of this one made it feel quite humane.

One man I spoke to, about my age, said that when he was at the school there were 400 students.

Now there are 19.


There was a big room for practising Tea ceremony. On a chart in the entrance hall was a list of all the local community members, mostly elderly, who volunteer at the school teaching things like art, tea ceremony, etc.

In one of the hamlets that make up Atoichi, the youngest member of the community is 78.


There was a computer room with at least 10 computers, which probably means it has the best computer to student ratio in any Japanese school.

I wonder how many more years it will be till the school is closed and the building begins its descent to becoming one more Haikyo.


It was Sunday, but most of the student body were in the playground, dressed up for Matsuri.


Behind the school buildings are some paddies, where the students grow their own rice, and today was the annual Tauebayashi (Rice planting song and dance) Festival.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Tauebayashi: planting the rice

The 4th and final post on last weekend's Tauebayashi Matsuri.


The Tauebayashi Matsuri was originally a religious festival. Rice was life, and fertility was the concern of many religions. Nowadays the matsuri is kept alive as a "folk art", but the religious aspect is still vital. The 4 corners of the paddy have gohei in the 4 colors, and in the centre is a sacred tree representing the kami of the rice paddy. Ritual sake has been poured around the tree, and the bottle left as an offering. After prayers, the planting begins.


The planters were originally "saotome", possibly translated as "virgin", but also with elements of fertile maidens. Nowadays the maidens are aged up to 80 years old, and also some young men planted as well.


To the accompanienment of the song and drumming, which is supposed to strengthen the rice but also functions as a worksong, the line of planters gradually move backwards across the paddy planting as they go.


There were actually a couple of saotome in the group.


Finally a short video of the scene.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Rice Planting!.... the musical!

The third post on the Tauebayashi Matsuri we went to on Sunday. This time a look at the musicians who play the worksong during the rice planting.


This character has no name, though he is wearing a Hyottoko mask. He keeps time for the music with a pair of small "changara", which is the local name for small hand cymbals.


There is a single flute player in the ensemble, and a group of 3 kodaiko players. The kodaiko is carried vertically and only the top is hit.


There is one player of the dora, a kind of bell/gong.


Most of the musicians play the okedo taiko, and it provides the meat of the sound. It is carried horizontally and both heads are struck.


For the first half of the planting the music was performed by the childrens ensemble, playing a smaller okedo taiko.


A short video of the lead singer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Faces from a Matsuri


Another series of photos from the rice-planting matsuri we went to yesterday, the Tauebayashi, in Kawahira.

I don't feel very comfortable taking photos of people, so I'm not very good at it, but in the context of a matsuri, where everyone is taking photos, I do try.


The only masks to be seen were on the farmer and his Ox that led the procession and then did a ritual circuit of the rice paddy accompanied by suitable mooing.


This is the lead singer of the musicians. He sings of what a beautiful day it is and how much fun it is to be out in the paddies planting rice. easy enough for him to sing as he is not bent over all day actually planting :)


The matriarchs of the village look on, critically one suspects.


It is supposed to be maidens that do the planting, but there are very few maidens in rural Japan, most having moved to the cities. However there were a couple of young beauties among the mostly middle-aged planters. Most photographers seemed to congregate at their end of the planting line.


For the first half of the planting it was the children who performed the music.