Warei Taisai Festival & Uwajima Ushi-Oni Matsuri
Youths carry portable shrines in the river waters at night and monster-shaped floats parade through the town streets
The biggest attraction is the heroic mikoshi (portable shrine) event called Hashirikomi held on the evening of the 24th. Three portable shrines transported on boats from the Port of Uwajima to the mouth of the Sukagawa River, are carried on the shoulders of energetic youths wading through the river waters amid the darkness, relying merely on the illumination of the pine torch fires. When they arrive in front of Warei-jinja Shrine, they dance around the sacred bamboo poles erected upright in the river while carrying the portable shrines. They then climb up the bamboo poles and compete for the good-luck charms fixed at the top of the bamboo poles. The spectators are seized by strong excitement at the sound of the beating drums and at the sight of the fervent youths. Some people even arrive during the day and wait for hours so that they can secure a place with a fine view.
The Uwajima Ushi-Oni Matsuri, held in the daytime on the same day is also spectacular. Huge floats in the shape of the legendary monster Ushi-Oni, the body covered with a red cloth and 6 meters tall, parade through the town. The Ushi-Oni is a strange creature for its body is shaped like a cow but has the head of a terrifying ogre called oni.There are many other attractions during the festival period such as a fireworks display and dance contest, and you can also watch togyu (Japanese-style bullfighting) with enormous bulls fighting each other at the Uwajima City Bull Ring. The stone-made torii (a gate erected at the entrance of a shrine) standing at the gateway of Warei-jinja Shrine, which serves as the main venue of these festive events, is well worth seeing, for it is the largest stone torii gate in Japan.
From Tokyo:[Air]15 minutes' walk from JR Uwajima Station.JR Uwajima Station is 1 hour and 20 minutes from JR Matsuyama Station on the Yosan Line (Limited Express Service).To Matsuyama Airport, take a flight from Haneda Airport.
Place: Warei-jinja Shrine
Dates: July 22nd-24th
City: Warei-cho, Uwajima City, Ehime Prefecture