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Kasuga Matsuri Kyoto

Afterward the doll funeral ceremony, we headed to the Kasuga shrine just North West of Shi-in station, where the Shinto deities are taken out into the town by two teams of two hundred men in hand-carried scintillating Arks of the Covenant, and a smaller team of women carrying a women's Ark, to ensure the deities go out to the people and remain alive and entwined in the life of the people. We arrived just in time to see the Arcs being blessed by the priests, the procession of elders, men on horseback, little girls in headdresses and boys piping flutes, followed by the women wildly joggling their shrine Arc and then the two teams of men with great gusto wielding their two shrines out into the street and away on a route round the neighbourhood.

Video of Kasuga festival

Men jumping with the irons, which ping like tambourines with their energy

Fair stalls along the parade route

The initial parade had sturdy men jumping, Shinto priests on horseback, and parades of men and boys and girls, playing flutes, carrying large and small arks, holding mock rifles, and the girls dressed in ceremonial finery characteristic of many matsuri we have seen.

A Tengu on parade

We then went into the Kasuga shrine, where there was a frenzied scene of activity with the two male arks receiving their blessing from Shinto priests who ran up their handles and placed blessings in them, before the men took off with great gusto 400 men carrying each of them pushing their way through the crowds with much heaving and puffing, while the 'virility' standard bearers had to hold their great poles aloft from a sporran-like leather cup around their waists all the time jiggling them back and forth so the penis-like arrow at the top lurched back and forward making a pinging sound.

Symbols at the top of the 'virility' poles carried by a strong male

The men's arks getting a blessing in the Kasuga Jinja

White and green priests blessing one of the men's arks.

Loin cloths and double toed moccasins

The blessing ceremony

The procession then wound out into the main streets of the local area of Kyoto.

Back at the shrine things were now much quieter with a small queue of people receiving blessings.

Meanwhile the women had been very energetically manipulating their ark around the streets with a frenzy easily matching the grunting of the men with their larger competing two arks, throwing it from side to side in a display of energy and enthusiasm which never seemed to end.

The female shrine was very frisky and highly energetic.

By this time the men had carried their two arks to a major intersection where they charged around hoisting each of them as if they were two stags competing for the attention of a herd of deer.

Four hundred men carry the two male shrines and vie with one another for energetics.

Getting the V sign from some very 'spunky' chicks!

UNICEF demonstration gathering support with many bows of humility.

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