On the outskirts of Anan City, Tokushima lies the small town of Tachibana, home to the Tachibana festival. This past weekend was my second trip to this festival only an hour south from my place. The Tachibana festival is relatively small by Japanese festival standards, but rivals most in terms of its uniqueness and danger. The Tachibana festival is somewhat difficult to explain, as I don’t know very much about the history of this event, but for the most part I’m pretty sure its motivated by religion and the hope for prosperity of some sort. At some time in the early evening, the madness of ramming rolling shrines together begins. Large decorated shrines are pulled by rope down a narrow alley with children drummers pounding away inside and some members balancing on top. Due the width of the alley, most spectators are right on top of the action with some standing only a few feet away from decapitation. Many times over during the night, the sound of drums and wheels churning can be heard, while the expectation of impact silences the crowd momentarily. The climax of the event is when the wooden shrines are pulled down the same narrow alley at full speed and ripped around a corner in hopes of reaching the footsteps of the town temple.
Note: See Japan Festivals album for more pictures.