Gorgeous "Hikiyama" Floats Excite Lake CityMain Otsu Festival Attracts 140,000 Visitors13 October 2013 - Sightseeing/Events
The highlight "Honmatsuri," or main day of Otsu Festival, one of the three major festivals in the Lake Biwa area, arrived on October 13. A total of 13 "Hikiyama" floats with gorgeous drape decorations paraded through the central area of Otsu City under the clear autumn sky. According to the nonprofit organization "Otsumatsuri Hikiyama Renmei," which operates the festival, the roughly 143,000 spectators enjoyed the events unique to Otsu Festival, such as "Karakuri," or mechanical doll plays, and "Chimaki Nage," or strewing of Chinese rice cakes wrapped in bamboo leaves.
At 9.00 a.m., all the Hikiyama floats lined up in front of Tenson Shrine, located at Kyomachi 3-chome, Otsu City. Accompanied by the "Kon Kon Chiki Chin" melody of the lively festival music, the procession set off with the "Saigyo Zakura Tanuki Yama," which is a "Kujitorazu" float with a traditionally fixed position, at its head.
The parade route is about 6 kilometers long. The three-wheeled Hikiyama floats proceeded with their wheels squeaking, and the parade route was crowded with spectators. Along the way, huge cheers broke out at 25 set locations called "Shomo" for the performances of Karakuri, which originates from historical events in China, as well as the Noh and Kyogen theaters. Many local people watched the parade from their homes' 2nd floor, from which red carpets hung, and shouted enthusiastically, "Toss over Chimaki."
Otsu Festival has been held as a festival of Tenson Shrine since the early Edo Period. The Hikiyama procession was developed through the support of the economic power of Otsu, which flourished in the Edo Period, and the culture of local people. It has been designated a Prefectural Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.(translated by Galileo, Inc.)