Half-naked drum fight turns into elegant parade
The Furukawa Matsuri is the annual spring festival of the Ketawakamiya Shrine in Hida City, Gifu Prefecture. It is made up of two main events: the clash of half-naked men and drums called Okoshi Daiko, and the gorgeous Yatai float procession. The two-day festival changes overnight from a wild, rough and tumble drum battle to a gorgeous procession of floats
During the first day, local men wearing traditional white wraps gather by the hundreds. The main drum, a giant one on a raised platform, is joined by smaller drums that represent different boroughs. The drums ram into each other as part of the festivities. To the local men of the Hida region, being one of the two drummers to straddle the giant drum is the biggest honor. These fearless locals suited up in the festival attire are referred to as “Furukawa Yancha.” The battle of offense and defense that unfolds at the Okoshi Daiko can often be dangerous.
On the next morning, as if it were a completely different festival, nine gorgeous festival Yatai floats are paraded around the town for an elegant and beautiful display of what could be the furthest thing from a physical battle. In 2016, the Furukawa Matsuri was listed as a Unesco intangible cultural asset.
Schedule: late April every year
Where: In the Furukawa section of Hida City, Gifu Prefecture
Photos courtesy of Oh! Matsuri