At Fuchu city, Tokyo, we have an annual festival called Kurayami Festival during Golden Week, from April 30 to May 6. The festival is held at Ohkunitama Shrine which is located near Fuchu Station, and people of the small shrines around the city come to worship mainly with portable shrines called Mikoshi, big drums called Taiko, and floats called Dashi.
One of the supporters of Shukulu Murekatete and Rodrigue Icishatse, the exchange students from PIASS, invited them to the festival. His name is Mr. Kazutaka Nakano. Dr. Godfrey Hampwaye, our visiting professor from Zambia, also accompanied with them.
Shukulu, Rodrigue, and Godfrey wrote essays about their experience. You can read them from the following.
On May 4, it started raining very heavily an hour before our meeting time. It was also hailing and we could hear the rumbling of thunder. It stopped after about an hour, but the drum performance called Taiko-no-Kyoen was canceled.
After meeting three of them, Mr. Nakano gave them festival costumes such as a coat Happi and a head gear Eboshi, and showed them how to wear. They looked very cool, and some people told them "Kakkoii (meaning cool in Japanese)" while they were walking around.
First, we went to Ohkunitama Shrine to worship. After walking through the approach with many stalls and full of people, Godfrey worship following English instruction of how to worship. Then, we watched the giant drum Taiko performance in front of the shrine. Usually, this performance is held by six taikos, but it was canceled because of the bad weather. However, Shukulu, Rodrigue, and Godfrey were enjoying it with Mr. Nakano's explanation about what the performance means. They were also amazed when they heard that the wood to be Taiko has been imported from Cameroon, although it is now forbidden due to the environmental problem.
After we came across Mr. Nakano's sister and were treated to a dinner, we watched the parade of Dashi, the wodden floats from neighborhood associations within the city. On each Dashi, people played Japanese traditional music called Ohayashi, with Japanese flute called Shinobue and Taiko, and kids showed people original dance. Then, the special moment came. Mr. and Ms. Nakano invited them to join local people pulling Dashi. I believe they could experience the Japanese spirit through not just watching but being a part of the festival.
We'd like to express our deepest gratitude to Mr. and Ms. Nakano for inviting them to the festival and giving them very special experiences that they could have only in Japan.