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03/21/2013

Volunteers contribute to liven up shrine festival, helping organize it, carry mikoshi

On the 17th of this month, a shrine festival took place at Kitsunezakihama on the Oshika Peninsula.

【It was a great day for a festival.】
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That festival has been held for several hundreds of years, dating back to an era before the Edo period (1603-1867). Kitsunezakihama, which currently has some ninety people of thirty households, now faces a difficulty handing down its age-old tradition of the festival to the next generation because decreasing young people makes it hard to get the necessary number of people to bear a mikoshi---an ornate palanquin-like portable shrine in which the ghost or spirit of a Shinto shrine deity is believed to ride. During shrine festivals, scores of believers wind through the town carrying the mikoshi on their shoulders.
Under the circumstances, JEN was asked to help them to hold this year's festival and volunteers who were mobilized by JEN helped out with organizing the festival or bearing the mikoshi.

【Changed into white clothing, they felt uplifted.】
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A total of twenty-two volunteers participated in the festival including employees from Mitsui & CO., LTD, who had been engaged on voluntary activities in Kitsunezakihama.

【People in festival costumes gallantly march through the town of Kitsunezakihama.】
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A group of the volunteers and villagers in Kitsunezakihama in conventional kimonos, carrying the mikoshi, left the Kitsunezakiinai shrine for the seashore. The dashing call of male members resounded all over the seashore. They called out "Chosai!, Chosai!" That call is said to be a corrupt form of "Kyousai!, Kyousai!"---Literally means "today is the day for festival"---and it was exciting to see the group marching through the town carrying the mikoshi while shouting.

【The group march through the town of Kitsunezakihama】
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The mikoshi in which the ghost or spirit of a Shinto shrine deity is believed to ride marched through every place in Kitsunezakihama, seashore, streets...to purify all of Kitsunezakihama.

This year's festival attracted over one hundred people more than last year. Kitsunezakihama was so crowded that some of the villagers said that this year's turnout might be beyond the prequake level.

With a laugh, one of the villagers said "There has been none better!" another one replied "If only we always have such many people."

It was really happy for JEN to be able to see many of the people in Kitsunazakihama where JEN had long worked on assistant activities wearing the best looking smile. With the disaster-stricken areas entering a period of reconstruction activities, there will be diverse opportunities for volunteers to play a part in the construction.

JEN is committed to supporting the reconstruction of distressed areas by dispatching volunteers to help people there hold their community events or activities of schools.

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March 21, 2013 in Tohoku Earthquake |