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Yawatahama City , Ehime Related category:
The Hashira Matsuri Festival of Gotanda    



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Entire story: 26 minutes
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The origin of the Hashira Matsuri (pole festival) of Gotanda goes back 400 years to the Sengoku period (1467-1568). During this period, when a warrior priest called Kongoin was absent from Motojo Castle, located in a mountain of Gotanda Motoi, because of ascetic training in Kyushu, the Chosokabe clan of Tosa Province attacked Motojo Castle. Kongoin hurriedly came back to the castle but was mistakenly shot by a friendly arrow. Motojo Castle finally fell into the hands of the enemy in 1584, but after that a plague attacked and took many peoples lives. People thought it was the curse of Kongoin. It is said that local people started the Hashira Matsuri festival in order to placate his soul. The festival is held on the night of August 14 every year. A pole about 20-meter long is set upright on the bank of the Gotanda River and a funnel shaped basket and bamboo grass ornament tied at the top. In the festival, a torch tied to a rope about one meter in length is thrown into the basket by young men from each village. Torches are thrown one after the other until one of them is caught in the basket and the basket flames up. The sight is spectacular wherein continuous bright fire balls dance wildly around the pole, leaving trails of light in the night sky. This festival is classified as a kind of fire festival and looked forward to by many people as an annual quaint traditional performance. It was designated the Prefectures Cultural Property in 1965. In 1975, the site was changed from the bank of the Gotanda River and is now performed in the grounds of a park.

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