ダニエル先生は、津山の大隅神社の秋祭りに 初めて参加し、おみこしを地元の方々と一緒に担ぎました。 いつも元気な 先生も、おみこしを担ぐのは思ったよりも大変だったみたいですね。
On October 16th I had the privilege of participating in the Osumi Omikoshi Festival. I can say, without a doubt in my mind, that it was one of the most exhausting, yet most rewarding days of my life. It was also a great learning experience and showed me just how much I still had to learn about Japanese culture.
My friend Rich and I arrived at the temple at 8 a.m. expecting to start preparations for the festival but we were among the first to arrive. This gave me a chance to speak with some of the temple leaders and practice my Japanese. We also got to see the opening ceremonies performed by the priests in the Osumi Shrine and we were even lucky enough to get blessed. Around 11 a.m. people started gathering and soon we were all getting ready to hoist the portable shrine up. When we lifted the shrine I couldn’t believe how heavy it was even with around thirty to forty people carrying it. Then came the hard part, we had to get the shrine under the Torii Gate and to do this we had to lower the shrine past our knees. Everyone struggled but it finally went under and we were off on our five hour march. It was hard for me to understand what exactly to do. When people would get tired of carrying the shrine people walking along side would switch in. The thing was they wouldn’t tell you when they were tired so I did not know when to switch in, how to switch in or who to switch in with. After sometime I eventually got the hang of it and actually found a spot in the back where I was left alone. In fact, the leaders wouldn’t let people take my spot. The march was gruelling and long though. Sometimes doubts would come up in my mind on whether I could continue but an encouraging shout from an onlooker would always focus me again. After a while my body started ignoring the pain and I realized that I had become one with the group. All of us were struggling yet we kept going, knowing that if even one of us failed we would all fail. Then, one of the leaders announced we would take our last break and march the rest of the way home. From where we were the shrine seemed like a very long way away.
As we were on the last leg of the journey home you could tell everyone was wearing down. People were switching much more frequently, almost every minute. We kept trekking on though, chanting as we walked. I had no clue where we were, I just kept switching in and out and taking my share of the burden. Then, all of a sudden we stopped. I looked up and was amazed to see we were in the Osumi Shrine grounds and surrounded by onlookers clapping. I had been concentrating so hard I hadn’t noticed. All that was left was to get the shrine under the Torii Gate. We headed forward up the steps and started lowering the shrine while the leaders around us were yelling, “Lower! Lower! It won’t go under! LOWER!” Finally, when we were carrying the shrine just below our knees, we went under. As soon as we did everyone screamed out of pure joy, including me, and an overwhelming sense of accomplishment swept over us all. You could see it in everyone’s eyes. We had done it.