Monday, August 2, 2010

Hamaorisai 2010 in Chigasaki

The Hamaorisai matsuri or festival takes place early in the morning around the middle of July on Southern Beach in Chigasaki, near Tokyo Japan. Over thirty mikoshi, some of which have been carried through the night from surrounding shrines arrive at the beach before sunrise. As the sun comes over the horizon around 5 am teams of men and women, some wearing just fundoshi loincloths and colourful towels around their heads take each of the mikoshi into the surf to purify them. This is a traditional ritual with ancient fishermen`s roots but the pain killing alcohol many have been consuming since the night before also make it a test of bravado and strength. the waves on this surfing beach can be big and each team try to challenge each other to see who can go further and deeper into the ocean. When this is over the mikoshi make their way back to the sand dunes behind the beach, lining up under long purple flags and bamboo boughs where they are blessed by white-robed monks in a traditional Shinto ceremony. That is the end of the matsuri and many of the supporters will wander along the beach and into town searching for friends and more alcohol. Some however will work their worn shoulder under the bars of the mikoshi again for one last challenge in the surf. (Source - Demotix)

I went with my co-first timers Tata and Rommel with second timers Jesslee and John. We stayed at John's place for the night but me and John didn't sleep. John made reservations for a taxi that will pick us up at 4AM. The taxi ride from John's place took about 25 minutes, but we arrived at the festival at around 4:45AM because it took us another 15 minutes to walk to the site.

This group was one of the first who went in to have their shrine purified not only by the sea but also by the first light of the real summer. I wanted the sunlight to hit the Mikoshi and I was happy that it came out like this.. I love the golden glow.. please also notice the mild glow in the water from the reflection.

I took this shot from the beach, I guess I was lucky that I got this clean without even going into the water. Hundreds of other photographers were there not to mention thousands of onlookers and the only way to get a good shot is to get into the water with them.

Here are the rest of the photos I took with the EF 50mm 1.4 on the 50D.

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