Magun's Compass - Online Home of Nomadic Gatherings Travel Notes Nomadic Gatherings: Travels in Asia and Australia Nomadic Gatherings Michel Guntern (Author) 1. Taking Off - Kumamoto Zuibyo Festival

Every 15th September the citizens of Kumamoto celebrate the Zuibyo Festival; the festival of Fujisaki Hachiman Shrine. The street processions continued all day and well after sunset.

To the rhythmic beat of skinned drums and cymbals, whistles and chants, groups of costumed Samurai men, women, and children paraded their colours, twirled parasols and wafted traditional fans. Each group had a horse at the front and a float-cum-shrine at the rear.

The larger men led the horse, continually trying to startle and provoke the animal into bucking near the gathered crowd, while at the same time backing-off the crowd to add to the drama.

The float housed the megaphoned cheer-leader, closely followed by the rhythm beaters and performing clan. Equally essential in the late summer heat, refreshments were stored behind the decorative facade.

As a foreigner interested in photographing the colourful pageant, I became a focus of attention myself.

Attractive young women shyly smiled from behind their fans; sweaty Samurai ceremonially bowed; and younger boys enthusiastically shook my hand, patted my shoulder or simply asked:

"How are you?"

When I wasn't working the lens and shutter release, an odd can of beer was thrust into my hand.

Very grateful I was too.

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