Hamaorisai Festival is one of the most anticipated festivals in Japan as it signals the start of the summer season. The ceremony begins before the sun rises and ends around 9 am. I stayed at my friend's place the night before, took the first train and still arrived late (and even thought of missing the main event). I and a group of friends joined the hundreds of Japanese and foreigners who troop down to Chigasaki Beach to be a part of the sacred spectacle.
Just before the sun summons its rays, spectators, hobbyists and photographers already position themselves to decent spots to capture and document the said event. No one cared how hot the sun breathing was. Everyone wants to have a clear view of the event as it unfolds.
Before the mikoshis (portable shrines) are carried to the ocean by the devotees, a ritual was held to sanctify all the participants for a good and prosperous year to come. Though I didn't understand the entirety of the ceremony, it was in Japanese, I can certainly feel its purpose and intent.
After receiving the well deserved blessings, devotees carried their mikoshis to the sea, a way of purification. It looks so easy in the photos but it takes strength, determination and patience to successfully challenge the weight as well as the waves that are coming along the way. But despite of the physical difficulties and struggles, each face of the disciple exudes an aura of contentment and of joy.
a devotee's niche
ordained by salty blessing
treasures of the ocean
And it must be noted the children let their presence felt too. Though they only stay at near shore they are still proofs that tradition and customs are not always about age and generation.
As a foreigner living in Japan, it was a very interesting and enriching experience for me. Hamaorisai Festival is one of the festivals that I will be looking forward from now on. And to all the devotees, much respect to all of you. A well deserved rest is what you all need.
Wishing everyone a fruitful year ahead.