Sunday, I participatd in a festival. Now my shoulders are swollen and very tender to the touch, and my calves hurt when I walk...but what a great experience!
It's very cool how I got involved. About 8 years ago, I lived in the same apartment complex as a ramen shop owner. About a week ago, my wife and I decided to go there to have lunch and to say Hi to some old friends.
We didn't know it at the time, but the festival (which only happens every 2 years) was scheduled for a week later. It was a happy coincidence to meet our friends just one week before the festival. We were invited to take part in it fully from beginning to end. We got started at around 10:30am after getting in to the correct attire.
The festival involves carrying a portable shrine (omikoshi) through the surrounding neighborhoods taking breaks every so often to eat and drink. One purpose of the festival is to have fun while you are thankful for life's blessings (especially food and drink).
The other purpose is to carry God around to all of the neighborhoods, so that each neighborhood can be blessed by God's presence. Some believe that God is actually present in the shrine, and that may be true, but I felt the presence of God in the hearts of all those participating in the festival. I think that is how the neighborhoods are truly blessed.
I also met some new friends.
The video below is kind of fun (for me). I'm right in the middle of the action. If you notice a hand going up and giving the peace sign, that's me.
The festival lasted until about 6:00pm that evening. After that, you guessed it, more eating and drinking at the ramen shop.