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  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 2.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 2.

    This is the rear of a float in the fall festival parade of the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The drummers produce a powerful rhythm on the taiko drums, literally, "large drums." Individual floats are associated with neighborhoods of the city. Late into the night, after the parade of all of the floats on the main street, one can hear chants of celebration as individual floats are pulled through their "home" neighborhoods, which is done for the benefit of sick or elderly who could not leave their homes to attend the festival parade.

  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 4.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 4.

    This float,a portable shrine, is from the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. It is carried from the shrine through the streets on the shoulders of bearers as seen here and is, obviously, a heavy burden. Of secondary interest is the stone wall / embankment that is seen in the background. This is now a park, but was formerly the site of Morioka Castle, which was ordered destroyed in the Meiji era.

  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 1.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 1.

    The front of another float from the festival parade in Morioka. The large figure portrayed on the float is probably a representation of Benkei, the legendary warrior - priest retainer of Yoshitsune. Yoshitsune is one of the great underdog heroes of Japanese history. He was the brilliant young general who engineered the victory of his elder brother, Yoritomo, leader of the Minamoto clan and founding shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. Suspecting treachery after he became shogun, Yoritomo sent an army in pursuit Yoshitsune, who escaped northward under the protection of the leader of the so-called northern branch of the Fujiwara clan, based at Hiraizumi, in southern Iwate prefecture. However, informed by the son of the elder leader of the Fujiwara, Yoritomo's forces descended upon Hiraizumi to capture Yoshitsune. At Hiraizumi, Benkei -- who was at least eight feet tall and indestructible -- single-handedly held off Yoritomo's entire army, giving Yoshitsune and his family time to commit suicide and to be burned in their home, rather than suffer the shame of capture by the forces of Yoritomo. The story of Yoshitsune and Benkei is a great theme of Japanese literature and provided, e.g., the basis for the great Noh play, Ataka, and the very popular Kabuki play, Kanjincho, based on Ataka. Hiraizumi is perhaps one half hour or so south of Morioka by train.

  • Thumbnail for Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 3.
    Festival -- ommatsuri, fall festival, Morioka, image 3.

    This image shows another of the floats from the fall festival celebration of the Hachiman Shrine in Morioka. The figure presented on this float may very well be a representation of Yoshitsune, the younger brother of Minamoto no Yoritomo, founder of the Kamakura Shogunate. As described in relation to image ecasia000021, the legendary figures Yoshitsune and his retainer, Benkei, were betrayed and came to their end at Hiraizumi, in southern Iwate Prefecture.