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The 4am Taiko parade to a Temple in the Mountains

Written on: Tuesday October 16th, 2007

A journal entry from: Memories of Niihama

*updated*

Yes, you read it right. At 3:30am I met up with Bryan and James B at the corner beside the municipal buildings and we headed on bike towards the mountains to see the Taikos being brought to the temple for blessing. At 4am the first Taiko was carried by over 100 people up the large stairs towards the temple. However we found ourselves a spot between the third and forth ones. We had met up with Rose, her fiance, David, Kendala and Yoshi on the way there. In the crowds I lost James and Bryan at one point so with the rest of the group grabbed a seat on a hill at the side of the path to watch the last Taiko go by and then watch for the guys. The four taikos sat at the top of the hill for about 10 minutes before starting the decent down the path. This time we all went back to the same hill and sat there watching/getting pictures. It was a perfect spot since the path makes a turn and so the taikos had to stop right in front of us before continuing. As the last one slowly made it`s way to the bottom the sun rose giving a nice end to the ceremony. Though night taikos are much more stunning with the use of the lights that make them glisten, in the daylight they are still really impressive. Each taiko group had its own flair with carrying. The last group seemed to be really tired and had to stop a lot while the 3rd group came across as being younger and more energetic. James B, Bryan and I left the ceremony grounds around 7am and decided to get a bite to each on the way home at Mose Burger. It was actually really nice to be up that early.... tired due to the one hour of sleep that night (got off work at 9pm and despite trying for bed at 10, I ended up reading till 1:30....too excited). Got home with enough time to have an hour nap before heading into work at 10am. Many of the people who went to the ceremony would do the same thing..... go to work right after and honestly at the end of the day I am really glad I went.

The Taikos are large float like structures made of fabric, golden colored metal and carried on large wood poles. They are taller then lamp posts so I won`t even try to guess it in meters.... would probably under-guess. And the middle is about 3 X 3 meters... maybe bigger. it is big enough to hold a taiko drum and a drumer. They were discribed to me by a student as `dragon looking` which I agree with. Expecially when the groups start into their `dance` (well... not dance but when they move the taiko by lifting and moving) it is easy to picture. The sides of the main `box` structure has detiled fabic dragons and pictures are done with expensive metal. Tassles hang around the top which add to the exciting movements and there is a large parachute like flag on top. Four men sit at the top of the box structure (I assume) yelling encouragment to those below. While four men with small flags and whistles stand on the long large wooden poles giving commands to the carriers. There is about 5 or 6 poles along the bottom about the length of a good sized tree which the carriers lift onto their shoulders or lift above their head. There is wheels when the Taiko is being taken from the storage area to the ceremony but the wheels are removed when it is carried. There are certain sentences which are yelled out as commands, Yoshi told us that there really is not a direct translation for them.... that they are only really used in this context during this ceremony. But it was neat...... at first a little hard to understand but by the end of the ceremony the combination of the drumming with the massive group shouting had an inpiring feeling. Like the cheers during frosh week at U of T. The individual cheer means nothing but when used by a group it seems to take on a life of it`s own.

 

From Betty on Oct 17th, 2007

Hey Jenny-Lyn- that was an early morning trek BUT what is a Taiko? Saw your Mom last night and she reminded me how to access your travel journal.