Fukuromachi Park in central Hiroshima city is transformed into a art massive installation this weekend as an impressive festival that melds tradition of the Inoko ritual with art and performance is resurrected after almost two decades.
The Inoko (young boar) Matsuri, a festival traditionally held on the day of boar in the month of boar by the old lunar calendar is a Western Japan variant of a ritual to ward off disease and wish prosperity on one’s descendants.
I’m not sure whether children have always been the focus of the ritual, but these days around Hiroshima, it is the kids who move around their neighborhoods, blessing houses and the families in them by bouncing a weight attached to several ropes up and down while chanting, “Inoko, inoko, inoko mochi tsuite, hanjose, hanjose!” [いのこ、いのこ、いのこもちついて、繁盛せい、繁盛せい…] Matt Mangham’s description of the event is one of the best online and you can get an idea in the video below.
Between 1990 and 1997 the Inoko Daifuku Festa took the idea of the traditional Inoko Matsuri to the extreme by creating a giant Inoko “bouncy thingy” (the traditional Shinto term) using a 1.5 ton hunk of rock, suspended by ropes attached to 88 13 meter tall bamboo standing in a circle in Fukuromachi Park. Looking at photos taken at the time it looks like quite a sight and, the video from the 1993 event below shows the stone being bounced up with a guy on top!
This weekend the festival returns. You can see preparations underway in the park right now, but the event kicks off on Saturday, November 2 at 3pm when there are food stalls, music, art performances and a Cosplay meet until 8pm. The main festival starts at 10am the following morning with kids making the rounds of the neighboring streets with standard-sized Inoko “bouncy things”. Back at the park from 3pm they get the giant rock bouncing, and as the sun goes down, the installation is illuminated and there are more arty performances. It would be great to see this event regain some traction and become a regular feature of Hiroshima in autumn once again.