Last week while across the river heading to pick up some firewood I was surprised to see some villagers from the little hamlet in a procession with a large Onusa heading to the riverbank. The next day, the 5th of May, both my village and the small town on the other bank would be having the Suijin Matsuri and would be doing the same thing, but this was the first time I had seen Ushiroyama doing it.
We all live on the banks of the Gonokawa River, the longest river in West Japan, and like all river here it is prone to flooding and causing damage as well as drowning people. Its for this reason that the priest over in Kawado told me that the Suijin matsuri is the most important ceremony of the year. The end of the ceremony involves placing a large Onusa, most commonly referred to in English as a purification wand, attached to a long length of bamboo and hung over the river at several points to pacify Suijin, the river god.
This is a photo of the largest Onusa, from the biggest of the Suijin festivals held in Kawado. I did not attend this year as I was away but I have posted on it before, here, here, and here.
The biggest Onusa on our side of the river is this one, on a large sacred tree at the point on the river that used to be the main, and dangerous, crossing before the bridge was built. I have posted on the Tanijyugo Suijin Matsuri here and here.
As part of the Tanijyugo Suijin Matsuri a second Onusa is placed on the riverbank further downstream where my hamlet reached the river above the spot where legend has it a Kappa lives