Sponsored by Fujisawa City Tourist Association.
When visiting Tokyo, a gigantic metropolis in constant excitement, you may not believe that you can change sneakers for flip-flops so easily. However, just 70 minutes by public transport from Shinjuku, you can reach a small Enoshima Island, which is famous for sailing and gliding. For the occasion of various upcoming sports festivities (the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020), I went on site to attend Enoshima Welcome Festival of the Sailing’s World Cup Series.
A tradition ceremony
When a country is honored to host a world-class event, it is often enough to highlight its cultural richness and traditions. That’s exactly what Enoshima decided to do for this ceremony. Japan has an impressive historical and cultural heritages, and traditions have been transmitted amazingly over centuries.
Interpretation of traditional dances and songs
The festival begins with a group of Japanese men interpreting Kiyari, a song with a particular rhythm and tones during each individuals in the group plays the lead one after the other. While Kiyari is rather calm and soothing, the second service is much more energetic. It’s women’s turn to take the stage for an Ondo dance with a background of traditional Japanese music.
Dancers who dressed in kimonos beautifully indulge in a rythmical Ondo form of the region, named “Enoshima Yacht Ondo” which was performed for the first time during Tokyo 1964 Olympics.
Music that travels through ages
For visiting tourists, this kind of event is a perfect opportunity to be loved by people of all ages. Even if we do not know much about Japanese culture, the diversity of the show and the quality of interpretations are enough to discover and experience the cultural wealth of the country.
Bayashi, an instrumental music typical of the end of Edo Period was the third part of the show. Between martial art and music, Bayashi offers an interesting performance since children incorporated certain gestures worthy of like a karate movie, while girls played the flute.
As I love the percussion, the following performance was my favorite. If you love world music, you will probably be filled with rhythmic richness of Wa-Daiko. Musicians perform with a sense of rhythm and incomparable energy, and also add some martial gestures to make the show even more vibrant.
Mikoshi, an impressive ritual
After an hour and a half of show, Mikoshi comes as the last part of the ceremony. Having no idea of the process, I was surprised to see how the ritual unfolded. Indeed, this custom is not really a dance nor a music, but rather a sacred ritual during which a group of people carries a tomb on their shoulders to the ocean!
Each individuals seems to have a specific role: while the majority support the structure, others sing around the Mikoshi by playing percussions with the wrists. I admit to being overwhelmed by the event, and I observe the Japanese culture in full swing before my eyes with a stupefaction and curiosity.
Once at the edge of the water, the group continues to transport the float to the sea, where they will eventually cleanse the sacred spirit before returning to the shore.
I did not know what to expect from this opening ceremony as I’m not particularly keen on sailing. I was delighted to see that Enoshima decided to focus on culture to kick off the launch of the cup because Japan has perpetuated its traditions throughout history more than any other country. It is an enriching experience for a foreigner to be able to attend this unique and exotic show.