Every October in the small town of Hiwasa is the Hachibana Jinja Festival, located 2 hours south of Tokushima City. The small town of Hiwasa has many unique qualities, which makes visiting very attractive. In addition to being surrounded by Tokushima’s beautiful southern beaches, Hiwasa is also known for its exciting annual festivals. In addition to the Hachibana Jinja Festival, there is the Umigame Matsuri (Turtle Festival) held in the summer. Every year, hundreds of turtles land on Ohama Beach in Hiwasa to span. To celebrate their annual arrival, a summer festival was created in their honor. During the day, many beach events take place: including a triathlon; followed by a parade; evening music and entertainment; and a fireworks finale.
The Hachibana Jinja Festival is also as festive and includes carrying large shrines weighing over a ton in honor of the Shinto god, "Chosa." Members of each group wait for their opportunity to lift their shrine and tour the festival grounds, while paying their respects to the various temples by ramming the front of their wooden shrine into the temple gates. Difficult to describe and painstaking to be involved in, making the full tour can take almost 1 hour to complete. After paying respects to all the temples and to all the other groups involved, the shrines are then taken to the beach where they are dipped into the water for fishing prosperity. Having participated twice in this event, this part can be dangerous if the waves are up. Last year, I was forced to drop my end of the shrine and jump into the wave to avoid being thrown back into the shrine. The members take a momentary food and drink break on the beach before the madness begins again.
Note: See Japan Festivals album for more pictures.