I had a thoroughly enjoyable time at the Atoichi Children's Tauebayashi Matsuri.
Following a small ceremony in front of the school, the procession made its way to the rice paddies that belong to the school.
For those whose only experience of Matsuri is at the major sites in the towns and cities, you are missing a very important aspect of matsuri, and that is community. In village matsuris there is a real festive atmosphere not based on alcohol. As at the rest of the time in these remote communities, people are friendly to visitors and one genuinely feels like a guest.
All the generations were involved, even the school principal, seen here on the drum.
The children come from the elementary school as well as Junior Highschool, Highschool, and even a couple of college students.
While Tauebayashi may have its roots in days long gone, it, like Taiko drum groups, Yosakoi dancing, etc are mostly a late twentieth Century phenomenon.
The festival in Atoichi is in its sixteenth year, and I would say it was a success in its aim of keeping alive the sense of village community.
As we were leaving we were given a couple of bags of mochi, rice cakes, made from last years harvest.