9th August, Yoimiyamatsuri / Senreisai Festival
Parade float Decoration
In the morning of Yoimiyamatsuri, parade floats are decorated in each town.
First the doll's torso is attached to a pole and then maintained and decorated. Finally, the head (that has been stored in a ceremonious box with sake) is attached.
Children Parade around the Town
During the day, premade floats will be accompanied by performers of the festival music, and each float will go around the town with the help of children and accompanying mothers.
Tamashii ire(Transfering of the soul)
After each parade float goes around each town, it heads to Ubagamidaijingu Shrine, where it receives purification from the shrine under a torii gate and does Tamashii ire (transfering of the soul). After that, they return to each town and go to the alleys in the towns.
Ceremony of Senrei
At 7:30 p.m., in the shrine, a ceremony of Senrei "Mitamautsushi" begins, which transfers the souls to Mikoshi (the portable shrine) in the darkness with turning lights off, relying on the light from bonfires alone. Festival deities (Amaterasu, Kasuga, and Sumiyoshi) worshiped in the main shrine and sprits in subordinate shrines (Kemitsu Shrine, Hiyama Shrine, Itsukushima Shrine, Toyokawa Shrine, Sasayama Shrine, Atago Shrine and Orii Shrine) are transferred to three Mikoshis and Horen.
Deciding the Leading Parade Float
After "Mitamautsushi", the leading parade float this year will be decided. On the wooden altar, 13 pieces of paper with the names of the 13 parade floats are placed and offered to the god. The priest swings Gohei (zig-zag shaped paper hanging on a stick) above the wooden altar to purify, and then slightly touches the name tags with the Gohei. Then, the first name tag that attaches to Gohei is then swung over to another wooden altar held by another shrine priest. The name tag is recieved by the role of Sarutahikonomikoto. Sarutahikonomikoto then receives confirmation from the chairman of the council, then reads out the parade float's name on the tag. This then tells us the leading float of the year.
10th August, Main festival <Togyosai> / Lower town route
Depart from Ubagamidaijingu Shrine → Yokoyama Family Merchant House → Esashi Town Meeting Hall → Higashi-Betsuin Temple → Toyokawacho → Esashi Minami High School (Bus turning point) → Shineicho → Dinner / break → Sasayama Shrine → Atago Shrine → Atagocho (Turning)→ Atago Shopping Street (Highlight 1) → Higashi-Betsuin Temple → Esashi Town Meeting Hall → Yokoyama Family Merchant House → Ubagamidaijingu Shrine(Highlight 2) → Finish
Before Departure of the Togyo Procession
At around noon, parade floats drawn by children from each town gather at the shrine one by one. The open spaces in front of the shrines are bustling with flutes, drums, and festival music in along with the shrill voices of "Yoi, Yoi" and "Enya Makkasho" as 13 floats line-up.
Departure of Togyo Procession (1:00p.m.)
It is finally the departure of Togyo procession. Starting with the Sarutahikonomikoto procession, followed by the Horen and three Mikoshis procession. After that, 13 parade floats lively and gorgeously depart and go around the Shitamachi area.
Judging Section for Festival Music
Between the shrine and Esashi Town Meeting Hall (Former Town Office) is the judging section for the festival music contest. The performance of each float as well as the exclamations with increase.
Dinner Time / Break Time (5:00-7:00 p.m.)
The participants of the festival will eat premade lunch boxes in the gardens of private houses which have been reserved as well as the garages of companies. You will be able to see many children everywhere in the streets of the old houses.
Highlights for All Parade Floats(1) (around 8:00p.m.)
The parade floats that departed at 7:00 p.m. will line-up at 8:00 pm in the shopping district of Atago. At this time, the main pullers are changed from elementery and junior high school students to high school students and adults. On the 13 illuminated parade floats, festival music is performed. The pullers of the parade floats and visitors come together. The Mikoshi then returns to the shrine passing through the crowd.
Kankosai / Shukuire (around 9:00p.m.)
On this day, another highlight is Shukuire of the Mikoshi when returning to the shrine. Eight people in white cloaks holding a lit torch face each other, and run the approach from the Torii gate up the stairs of the shrine at a breath as if purified by fire. Following this, the Mikoshi is also carried up by youths in white coats and runs up the stone steps at a breath. However it is not done only once. They will perform it seven times, then Shukuire is made at the 7th time. For the following 2nd and 3rd Mikoshi, the ceremony is repeated five times and three times, respectively. The three Mikoshi called "Omiya" are large and as a result the carriers get sweaty. They squeeze through the crowd to enter the shrine. In the shrine the celebration continues while being surrounded by applause. When the Mikoshis are placed in the shrine, the parade floats will start to play the "return to the mountain" song and will gather at the shrine.
Highlights for All Parade Floats(2)
Around the time of the end of Shukuire, the parade floats again end up in front of Ubagami shrine. It is the the last highlight on the 10th.
11th August, Main Festival <Togyosai / Senreisai> /Upper town route
Ubagamidaijingu Shrine → Hotel Terakoya → Tsubanacho → Coastline → Minamihamacho → Kashiwamori shrine (turning) → Minamigaoka Elementary School → Hiyama shrine → Jinyacho → Shigeshiricho → Dinner / break → former NTT → Hashimotocho → Honcho → Uenocho → Esashi Police Station → Gokkateya Honpo → Hotel New Esashi → Kenmitsu shrine → Maruyamacho (turning) → Hotel New Esashi (Biggest Climax) → Finish
Departure of Togyo Procession (noon)
Like the previous day, parade floats drawn by children gather at the shrine before noon. During the gathering, the result of the festival music contest are announced. The processions depart from the shrine at noon again in the order of Sarutahikonomikoto, Mikoshi, and floats. Contrary to the previous day, the procession turns left at the site of the former Hirano Ryokan and heads to Uemachi.
Parade floats drawn by children and mothers take a break here and there in each town. Mothers hand out ice candies, sweets and drinks to children. Children eat their ice candy while being blown by the sea breeze. It is a happy sight.
At 7:00 pm, after switching from children to adults, the parade floats travel around the town, they go to Maruyamacho and then return. Around that time, the processions of Sarutahikonomikoto and Mikoshi come out of Kenmitsu Shrine. They parade to Ubagamidaijingu Shrine and Shukuire is held the same as the previous day.
The Biggest Climax (9:00-11:00 p.m.)
The parade floats turning back from Maruyama gather one after another in the downtown area of Shinchicho in front of Hotel New Esashi. Each time when a parade float comes, the speaker of the street broadcast will announce loudly, "The parade float has just entered! Well done everyone on the float. Please applaud everyone along the roadside. The dolls on this parade float are <something to praise>!". Shinchi-dori will be surrounded by light, festival music and shouts of joy from the people. In a fiery turbulence, pullers and spectators become one; some people dance, some jump, some sing. The whole town gets drunk at the biggest climax of the festival.
Oiwake Sightseeing Department
Esashi Town Office
Address: 193-1, Aza Nakauta-cho, Esashi-cho, Hiyama-gun, Hokkaido
Postal code: 043-8560