Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Osaka's Hot and Thrilling Danjiri Festival
Written by TJ
When talking about festivals in the Kansai Region, Kyoto's Gion Festival immediately comes to mind. But there's another thrilling festival in the Senshu area of Osaka: the Danjiri Festival! The sight of participants dancing on top of fast-moving floats is sure to excite a crowd!
The Senshu Area: Home of the Danjiri Festival
There are many festivals in Japan, each with its own local flavor. However, those looking for a thrilling atmosphere should visit the Danjiri Festival in the Senshu area of Osaka.
This area stretches from the border of Sakai City to the prefectural border between Osaka and Wakayama. Kansai Airport and Rinku Town are both located here. It's also famous for products such as the Senshu Towel. Let's take a look at the festival!
A Community-Wide Event Among Locals
A danjiri is a dashi (decorated float) on wheels. These embellished floats are paraded through the neighborhood during the festivities.
While there are multiple Danjiri Festivals, most of them are held in the Kansai Region. However, the most famous one is held in Kishiwada City in the Senshu area.
During the Danjiri Festival, a group is formed in each district. Members of the community work together to pull floats, prepare meals, and join the procession.
The local community is very committed to the festival. It's common to see groups sporting their own uniforms, towels, and banners.
There are even sheds specifically for the danjiri in each district.
The Flow of the Festival
The Danjiri Festival begins early in the morning. The floats are led to nearby shrines and start their procession from there.
Before they embark, the danjiri riders throw candies into the crowd.
The daytime procession ends sometime between 16:00 and 17:00. The danjiri then returns to the shed, and is illuminated with paper lanterns. The nighttime procession kicks off around 19:00.
Compared to the daytime, the festivities at night are not as fierce. Even Kindergartners and elementary school children don festival garments participate as float-pullers!
Three Things to Watch
1. Intricate Wood Carvings
While designs vary in each district, the danjiri of the Senshu area are all adorned with elegant wood carvings.
The float will be parked at shrines before the procession, so be sure to take a look.
2. Daikugata: Festival-Goers Dancing on the Danjiri's Roof
There are many people aboard the danjiri, such as participants under the roof banging drums or playing flutes.
But the most eye-catching may be the daikugata who stand on the float's rooftop.
As the participant on the lower roof directs the pullers, the daikugata on top dances wildly with a fan in hand and chest bared.
3. Sharp Turns
The highlight of the festival is the yarimawashi: the high-speed turns at street corners.
While most floats in Japanese festivals stop and turn at the corners, the danjiri turns without stopping.
The float, equipped with wooden wheels, weighs more than four tons with pullers in the front and rear. They must work closely as a team to turn the float.
The Danjiri passes by buildings, making sharp turns at breakneck speed, with the daikugata evading the stoplights. This definitely is a festival filled with thrills.
Held annually in September and October, the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is the most famous in the Kansai region. However, there are other thrilling festivals in nearby cities and town. (The Kishiwada festivals were cancelled in 2020.) For more information, please check the official website.
Please keep in mind that casualties can occur during the Danjiri Festival. Be sure to pay attention to the staff's instructions and keep out of harm's way.