Danjiri Festival

Hi I’m Ryo Sakai, junior year student in KGU School of International Studies. Here I talk a bit about my personal background.  I was born and raised in Osaka, and when I was in sophomore year, I went study abroad to University of Massachusetts Amherst for a semester as an exchange student.  I majored in education in the US and after got back to Japan, I started to study linguistics as my theme of graduation thesis.  my hometown osaka is now very big city, but still has a lot of cultural stuffs, so here I will talk about the traditional festivals.

Japan has a lot of festivals in fall to pray for harvest, and I’ll introduce the one of the most exciting festivals, called “Danjiri(地車)”.  Danjiri is a huge wooden shrine with 4 wheels like a car and so many carvings on it, which runs all around the certain local areas.  2 long ropes are tied to the front part of Danjiris, and people pull the ropes to move them.   While a Danjiris are moving, males are playing 4 Japanese music instruments on it, Shino-bue (flute made with bamboo), Kane (gong), Ko-daiko(small drum), and O^-daiko (large drum).

The group of people who pull the Danjiris are called “Seinendan(青年団)” and most of the members are from 18 to 26 years old.   Danjiri festivals are recently becoming a racing of Danjiris, whici means Danjiris are competing their speed with others, so Seinendan start to train themselves about a month before the festival, so that their Danjiri can run faster than others. (I attached the Youtube video of festivals on this post and that may be helpful to grasp the image of Danjiri)

Since the Danjiri is based on Shintoism, it also reflects the religious value of Shintoism.  Shintoism forbids women to get into some of its sacred places, and that rule is called “Nyonin-kinsei(女人禁制).  For example, until the end of Edo Period, women were religiously banned to climb Mt Fuji, though Mt Fuji is now visited by so many climbers including males and females.  The same thing is happening in Danjiri Festivals, females are usually not allowed to ride on Danjiris, and people believe that the females who have ridden on Danjiri can never get married.  Some of the Seinendans don’t even accept females because of its Shintoism value.  Nyonin-Kinsei has caused some serious problems in terms of sexism.  The case of Danjiri is not a serious one but there are other problems going on in some parts of Japan.

Japanese traditional festivals are really fun, but I think that we should also be aware of its religious backgrounds and influence on festivals and that helps us to understand how religions are affecting japanese customs and culture.

Resource:
 The website of Kishiwada city where the biggest Danjiri festival is held.
Youtube video of Danjiri Festival

• Shinto Festivals- Maturi.  BBC-Religeons.

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6 responses to “Danjiri Festival

  1. 私はサマンサです。よろしくおねがいします。
    Wow!!! I have never seen any kind of matsuri quite like this. I can definitely see why it is so appealing. I think that the combination of the beautifully decorated danjiri, the amount of manpower working together to pull it, and the fearless individuals riding it make the event truly fascinating. I really like how the danjiri matsuri finds its roots in Japanese religion and continues traditions of the past, yet at the same time, its competitive nature of the racing danjiri give it a very modern feel. I see that this racing of the danjiri can also be very dangerous. I would probably be scared to even watch! So for now, my dream is to go a Japanese summer festival and try goldfish scooping.

    • Hi Samantha:) Thank you for your comment.
      Yeah Danjiri festival is very exciting and attracting one but it’s very dangerous at the same time. I’ve seen some accidents of Danjiris. Sometimes Danjiris crash into the buildings along the streets, and also, Danjiris can even fall down when they try to turn the corners at high speed. but still, Danjiri Festival is attracting a lot of Seinendan members and audiences. When Danjiri Festivals are going on, a lot of street stalls are opened and you can also find goldfish scooping there. So you should try it watching dangerous, but exciting racing of Danjiris:P

  2. While reading the article I enjoying learning about the value behind the festivals. I found it interesting that while watching the video I truly didn’t see any women on or by the float. I did notice that the women that I did see were wearing white and I was wondering is that a custom that the men wear a darker color compared to the women whom wear white? I found it quite touching that at the end of the festival that the attention turns to the children and the rivalry ends. When it comes to teams to you join a team based off of your family or friends who does that work? I can’t really compare it to anything in my culture, but I hope that when I visit japan that I can stand by and watch the festival and experience it. It seems like a once in a life time possibility that anyone would love to be a part of. Have you ever been in the festival or will you in the future be in it? Overall the festival seems like a tradition that have been carried on for centuries and is a joyful time during Japanese culture.

  3. 私はジェイソンです
    This Matsuri seems like a lot of fun. I am especially fond of the race through the city by the different danjiri. I can see how this festivle is very exciting though i personally would worry about the potential damage that could be done to peoples property if the danjiri flew out of control. I love how shintoism is so unique with each festival and god taking different forms depending on the region in japan you are in. I believe by looking at these beliefs you can truly tell the difference between Japans regions. If i am in osaka at this particular time i would want to stop by and watch.

  4. I think this topic is really interesting as I see different Japanese cultures combined in one topic. I saw Japanese superstition in the Danjiri festival. We’ve discussed this topic in class before and I am really interested to know where the superstition came from. Like in Danjiri festival, women are not allowed to ride the danjiri because it is believed that they will not get married. It will be really interesting if we can actually find out where all of these superstitions came from. I am also curious why women are forbid from entering some of the places. I also wonder if there is an explanation why they actually forbid women from climbing mount fuji. Does that has anything to do with Japanese superstition? However I think that this sexism and ‘discrimination’ against women are not exclusive to the Japanese culture, because women were also being discriminated in other culture like the Arab Jahiliyyah (way before Islam was introduce)

  5. I always find myself wishing that we had festivals like this in America. It was exciting just to watch the festival, so I can only imagine what it is like to actually be there. Since this festival has roots in Shintoism, I tried to look up a few facts about the religion. I found it unique that in the Shinto religion, humans are thought of as being born pure. Shintoism has been around for such a long time, so it would likely be difficult to change sexist views very quickly. I am curious as to whether anyone has tried to convince the people in the festival to allow women to participate? Like some of the people who have commented before me, I was worried about how dangerous the festival could be. I think that is what makes it more exciting though! The carvings on the Danjiris are so elaborate and it looks like the people who crafted them put a lot of time and effort into it. I can see why the neighborhoods have such pride in their Danjiri. Reading about wonderful festivals like this one has made me more excited to one day visit Japan. Thank you for sharing this with us!

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