Danjiri Festival Kishiwada

Japan's Festival Calendar: September

Danjiri Festival, Osaka 岸和田祭り

C. Ogawa

Danjiri festivals are common throughout Japan, but if you say "Danjiri Matsuri" (festival) to a Japanese person, there is one festival that will come to mind: the violent, exuberant mayhem that takes place every September in the town of Kishiwada, Osaka.

The "danjiri" are the large wooden floats, or portable shrines, that are pulled around a pre-set route on the day of the festival. These shrines are kept in storage for a year and are quite beautiful.

Prior to the festival, there are ceremonies and prayers. The ornate shrine is taken out and readied; then the fun starts.

When is the Danjiri Festival?

The Danjiri Festival is held on different days in September, depending upon when the national holiday Respect for the Aged Day falls.

Danjiri Festival, Kishiwada, Osaka, Japan.
Danjiri Festival, Kishiwada, Osaka

Where is the Danjiri Festival?

The Danjiri Festival is held in Kishiwada City, Osaka. Kishiwada is a working class castle town that was rural until recently. Today it is a suburb south of the city of Osaka, not far from Kansai International Airport.

The festival takes place in the area around Kishiwada Castle and Kishiwada Station. The parade on the first day goes past Kishiwada Station with the festivities on the second day in the neighborhoods around Kishiwada Castle.

Kishiwada is on both the JR Hanwa and Nankai Honzen lines. From Osaka Station, ride the Kanjo Line (circle line) to Shin Imamiya. Change there for the Nankai Line, which is a 24 minute ride to Kishiwada Station.

Danjiri Festival, Kishiwada.
© The International Friendship Association of Kishiwada
Danjiri Festival, Kishiwada, Osaka, Japan.
Danjiri Festival, Kishiwada, Osaka

What is the Danjiri Festival?

The Danjiri Matsuri dates to the 16th century, and is believed to have its origins in the "Inari Matsuri" that was held in 1703 - prayers for a good harvest said at Kyoto's Fushimi Inari Shrine by the then daimyo of Kishiwada - Okabe Nagayasu. Like many fall festivals, the Danjiri matsuri is essentially a harvest festival to pray for a good harvest. It was created by the Lord of Kishiwada Castle and has always had a wild side to it.

In the past, that could have been said about most festivals in Japan. In the post-war period, however, festivals, like most aspects of Japanese life, have become tamer affairs. The good folk of Danjiri however continue to resist this, and it remains a dangerous festival with several deaths not uncommon each year.

The reason for this is that men stand atop the floats as they weave and turn down narrow streets. These men are sometimes thrown off and crushed below.

This year (2017), the festival will be held on September 16th and 17th.

Schedule for the Danjiri Festival?

Danjiri draws in a lot of tourists, perhaps more than any other Japanese festival.

The schedule for this year's festival is as follows:

Day One

6:00 - 7:30 Hiki-dashi (opening pull)
9:30 - 11:30 Parade
13:00 - 17:00 Parade
19:00 - 22:00 Parade of lantern-lit danjiris

Day Two

9:00 - 12:30 Miya-iri (Shrine entering)
13:00 - 17:00 Parade
19:00 - 22:00 Parade of lantern-lit danjiris

www.city.kishiwada.osaka.jp/site/danjiri (Official site in Japanese and other languages)

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