A Magnificent and Gorgeous Festival! Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

A Magnificent and Gorgeous Festival! Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Do you know the festival “Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri” held in Osaka?

Danjiri Matsuri boasts a culture and history of about 300 years, and is held in Kishiwada in southern Osaka. It is said to have its origin in Inari-Sai (Festival of the Grain God), which had been held to pray for a rich harvest of grain. It is one of the most famous festivals in Japan, with its performance full of excellent speed and power attracting tens of thousands visitors come to Kishiwada every year!

A “danjiri” is a large wooden cart made for festivals. It is a traditional type of “float”. During Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri, the townspeople would tie the ropes onto danjiri, pull it together and run around the town, which is the highlight of this festival! There are so many wonderful elements worth watching! Such as the “daikugata” (carpenter) dancing on the magnificent danjiri that is decorated with beautiful carvings, “yari-mawashi” (corner turning) that townspeople run around the streets at full speed and quickly change the direction at each street corner, and distinctive happi (a traditional Japanese straight-sleeved coat) from different towns.

“Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri” is a big festival held from September to October. Now let me introduce to you the charm of it!

  The “daikugata” dancing brilliantly on the danjiri

A “daikugata” is the person who stands on the roof of each danjiri and performs. While the danjiri is moving forward at an amazing speed, the daikugata would ignited the festival’s enthusiasm by passionate jumping and performing, in defiance of the shaky roof of the danjiri which has the height of the second floor of a building. The excellent performance is exactly the most famous element of danjiri! Actually, daikugata also plays an important role to give instructions to the team members behind him.

The “daikugata” dancing brilliantly on the danjiri

  The finale speed show

Normally, the people proceed only at the speed of walking, but when it comes to “yari-mawashi”, they would start running around the town together, with the sound of flutes and taiko! The scene where hundreds of people starting running together is definitely the most wonderful part of this festival!

The finale speed show

  The “daikugata” dancing brilliantly on the danjiri

Speaking of No.1 highlight during Danjiri Matsuri, it has to be “yari-mawashi”! It is the most notable moment both for locals and people came from afar! Unlike other festivals’ cautious turning at the corners, townspeople here run around the streets at full speed and quickly change the direction at each street corner. The danjiri weighs over 4 tons, and the performance “yari-mawashi” needs townspeople to use strength to pull it. Nothing is faster or more exciting than “yari-mawashi”!
The scene where they shout loudly and change the direction quickly is so wonderful and worth watching! Do not miss the gripping “yari-mawashi”! You can also watch videos on the official website.

The “daikugata” dancing brilliantly on the danjiri

  Beautiful carvings made by craftsmen

Speaking of Danjiri Matsuri held in Kishiwada, the most famous thing would be “yari-mawashi”, but the carvings decorated all over the danjiri are also notable! Instead of using lacquer coating and gold leaf, those carvings are completely made and finished with only the wood from zelkova serrata trees. The theme of those carvings is based on famous scenes from Japanese war tales and fairy tales that were performed in the form of joruri, kabuki and kodan and loved by people. During the break time when the danjiri stops, you may actually see it.

Beautiful carvings made by craftsmen

  Different happi of each town

In addition to the danjiri, the happi that the pullers are wearing is also quite impressive! The names of the towns, different designs of pulling ropes and flowers are very cool! The list can also be checked on the official website.

Different happi of each town

What do you think? This article on “Danjiri Matsuri” may not be able to perfectly depict the impressive sight of this festival. How about coming and actually experiencing it? In 2019, it will be held from September 14th to 15th and from October 12th to 13th! There will be many floats showing up as soon as the festival begins! Make sure you will come and enjoy!

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri – the official website of Kishiwada

Draft storyboard & illustration by

Hikari Takabayashi (Osaka University of Arts)

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