Traditional festivals in Japan have taken a significant hit due to the spread of COVID-19. Given the nature of events that naturally involve people gathering, shouting, and singing together, this will hardly come as a surprise.
However, on July 2, the governing body of the “Kishiwada Danjiri Festival” in Kishiwada City, Osaka Prefecture, announced a plan to resume the traditional celebration of towing the danjiri (wooden portable shrine) on September 18 and 19 this year.
The festival involves a parade featuring large wooden shrine floats that are pulled at a high speed by a large team of men. Last year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was canceled for the first time in 75 years, while the rest of the festival was limited only to its Shinto rituals.
On this occasion, however, the festival governing body’s representatives exchanged views with Kishiwada Mayor Kohei Nagano. The group explained they will be taking anti-COVID safety measures during the festival. Not only will they ensure the participants are vaccinated, but they will also make changes to the danjiri route in each town, distributing the festivities more widely to avoid crowding.
Mayor Nagano urged participants to be thorough in their anti-COVID measures, and added as an extra precaution, “We will call for the general public to refrain from coming to see them.”
It’s a small step, but perhaps one in the right direction, to make sure that local traditions aren’t lost at the hands of the novel coronavirus.
(Read the related Sankei Shimbun article in Japanese at this link.)
Author: The Sankei Shimbun