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  • Writer's pictureLaura Peters

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Updated: Feb 14, 2022

In 2012, my middle daughter, Claire, had arranged to spend the year studying Japanese in Sapporo, Japan. Since I had never been to Japan I proposed that I go to Japan with her, and we spend three weeks traveling before she headed off to Sapporo and I flew home alone. I booked the flight to Tokyo and she booked the hotels and youth hostels in the places she thought would be interesting. I expected Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka, but I did not expect Kishiwada and a festival called, “Danjiri Matsuri” (float festival).

A danjiri is a an elaborately carved wooden cart built to look like a temple or shrine. It is pulled through the streets of town by dozens if not hundreds of people. Each neighborhood in town has its own danjiri group who do the pulling. The mind-blowing part is that they often pull the danjiri through town very fast. I mean, seriously fast. Sometimes it’s a competition for which neighborhood can get their danjiri going the fastest. Sitting inside the danjiri is a flute player and a drummer. The Daikugata stands on top of the danjiri doing a traditional fan dance and urging the pullers on to move faster. They especially like to go around corners at breakneck speed. That the Daikugata doesn’t fall off and no one gets trampled is amazing. The sound of the drums and flutes, whistles, and shouting is sometimes deafening but always thrilling.

Everyone was full of joy, warm and welcoming. As we walked down one street, we looked in garages as we passed. Partying people always waved. One group invited Claire and I in and shared with us their beer, sake, sushi, other food delights and a lot of laughs.

I never would have found the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival if I had headed to Japan on my own or with someone my age. By 2012, I had already figured out that offspring tourism could be a good gig. This trip confirmed my theory.

Learn more about the Kishiwada Danjiri Maturi here:


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