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Things to do / Traditional festivals

Sanno Festival

General visitors are prohibited from viewing the event due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.

If you’re praying for something significant, like world peace or a good harvest, a simple bow and a clap before your local shrine’s offertory box might be insufficient.

To really help get your wish into the ears of the gods, Hiyoshi Grand Shrine in Otsu, Shiga Prefecture, will soon honor its chief deities by holding a month-and-a-half-long spring event known as the Sanno Festival.

Its main component, involving all the fun of carting around 1.5-ton On that night, the Uma-no-shinji ritual will kick off when hordes of men carry two objects and climb down the 381-meter Mount Hachioji, led by others carrying flaming torches.

The following night, don’t be shocked when the men begin rocking four mikoshi back and forth — in a supposed re-enactment of the labor pains of a goddess — while roaring at the Omandokoro building. The ceremony, for which you might want a set of earplugs, will wind up with even louder thuds — the emulation of a divine childbirth.

The excitement will remain high on April 14 with further events, including a parade of portable shrines that will be carried around the area of Sakamoto and on Lake Biwa. (Yuki Yamauchi)