Every year during Golden Week on May 4th and 5th, the Susukigawa Shrine puts on a big “boat” festival that involves the nine neighborhoods of the Satoyamabe area. These boats, called ofune, are actually traditional wooden floats that date back over 100 years. Taking place just as the rice gets planted in the local area, this festival brings in the planting season and prays for a good harvest in the fall.
As the festival approaches, each neighborhood dresses up their wooden floats with colored fabric on either end, making them appear as if they were actually boats. The young men then gallantly drag, push, and pull the ofune through Satoyamabe to the shrine where the floats intricate carvings and gold plating are put on display for everyone to see.
Perhaps the most exciting point during the festival is the moment when each float barges through the gates of Susukigawa Shrine in the adrenaline-filled, and slightly dangerous, final leg on the path to the shrine. Check out the photos of all the boats making their entrance below:
Afterwards, spectators and boat pullers alike hang around the shrine premises enjoy food, snacks from the festival vendors, and perhaps some sake. If you have a chance during Golden Week, this is one festival worth seeing!