Every year on November 3rd, an autumn festival is held at each of the Kure city's 30ish shrines. With the autumn festivals, the thoughts of city residents start turning towards the end of the year.
Yabu, an ogre (demon) who appears during these autumn festivals, is a ‘character’ peculiar to Kure.
Carrying a bamboo pole, the main role of Yabu is that of deity bodyguard. It also plays the role of guiding the deity, and checking the quality of the rice offered.
During a party called Yogoro, which is held on the eve of the festival, the ogre-like Yabu walks around the vicinity of the shrines, and through shopping districts, menacing children with its bamboo pole.
Yabu may be a bodyguard, but for children, and sometimes even for adults, Yabu can be truly frightening.
The autumn festival reaches its climax and finishes with a ceremony where the shrine parishioner offers a portable shrine made of rice bales.
However, even this isn't done in the usual way.
Yabu lies in wait, and tries furiously to stop the portable shrine from entering the shrine.
It may seem as if Yabu is hindering the portable shrine from entering, but actually the ogre is using the bamboo pole to poke the bales and check that the rice being offered isn't suspicious.
It also carries the meaning of the ogre using the pole to rub the rice so it will become polished before being offered to the deity.
This scene during the climax is so wild it's like watching a drama!
And when sake is involved, Yabu becomes even more quarrelsome and goes on a rampage, shaking the bamboo pole and shouting loudly.
The battle with the portable bale shrine unfolds over about an hour.
Children are so scared of Yabu that they're all in tears – a typical festival scene.
Even careless adults may become the target of the bamboo pole, so be careful!
How about experiencing the intensity of Yabu by taking a walk around the shrines in Kure city on November 3rd, Autumn Festival day!
Kure Autumn Festival
Location: Shinto shrines within Kure city
Date: November 3rd
Setouchi Finder Photo-writers: Makoto Esaki & Yoko Suganami (Rainbow Sake Co., Ltd.)
Yoko Suganami Rainbow Sake, Inc. After an extended stay in Hawaii, in 2011, I returned to my hometown of Kure, Hiroshima. Having worked at advertising companies in both Japan and Hawaii, I founded Rainbow Sake - a PR company with the goal of spreading Sake abroad. I hope that sake will ""bring the people of the world together"" and that I can be a part of that. I often travel abroad, and mostly to Hawaii and Singapore. Every time I come back home, I rediscover the beauty of my hometown and the happiness the easygoing, calm, fresh and simple sea and mountains of Setouchi bring.
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