- Spring festivals. A collective term for matsuri held in the spring (from January to May) and which includes some new year festivals (see Shogatsu). They are held to pray for a good harvest and may include ceremonial rice-planting (see Ta-asobi). Several now feature parades of festival floats (yatai) with performances of kabuki etc. by children or puppets. Examples are the dekayama ('huge mountain') floats of Otoko-nushi jinja, Ishikawa which weigh twenty tons and display scenes from kabuki played by mechanical dolls in a festival held from May 13-15th, and the kodomo-kabuki hikiyama-matsuri ('children's kabuki pulled-mountain-float festival') of the Demachi-shin-myosha jinja, Toyama which takes place on April 16-17th. Other festivals feature interesting or unusual mikoshi. At the saka-orishi ('down the slope') matsuri of the Ohama, Boko, Kinumine jinja, Shiga prefecture on the first Sunday in May, the mikoshi is lowered down a steep hill with straw ropes. At the Ichinomiya kenka matsuri (kenka means fracas, ruction, brawl) at the Matsu jinja, Niigata on April 10th, two mikoshi teams struggle to have their mikoshi consecrated first at the shrine. At the Sagicho matsuri of Himure Hachiman jinja, in Shiga in April or March, young men dressed as women carry mikoshi-style floats decorated with the Chinese zodiacal animal (horse, monkey etc.) while at night huge torches are lit to purify the grounds. Cf. Aki-matsuri.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto. Brian Bocking.