Thursday, November 16, 2017

Matsusaka; Ujisato Festival 2017

松阪氏郷祭

Ujisato Gamo (1559-1595)was a daimyo of the late Sengoku period. He was also known as Utahida and Tsuruchiyo at earlier points in life.
Ujisato came into prominence as a political hostage serving Oda Nobunaga. After the assassination of Nobunaga, Ujisato and his father rescued the family of Nobunaga and aided the ensuing conflict. After success in the following battles, Toyotomi Hideyoshi granted Ujisato a domain in the Kii domain (which the Kii peninsula takes it's current name). After taking power of Matsusaka (in eastern Mie prefecture) in 1585 he began the construction of Matsusaka Castle. That castle was completed in 1590 but Ujisata controlled a number of other castles through his subordinates (such as Aizuwakamatsu Castle and Obama Castle). An interesting point of Ujisato is his conversion to Christianity at the end of his life in Osaka, taking yet another name at his baptism; Leo.

Matsusaka Castle was destroyed in 1877 by a fire but the ruins of the site remain as a park. In 2011 the site of the ruins were declared a National Historic Site.

The city of Matsusaka celebrates the ties to the Warring States Period (Sengoku Jidai) with a samurai parade around the 3rd of November. The festival is called the Ujisato Festival, in honor of Ujisato Gamo.

Matsusaka is also famous for their beef, which is considered one of the three great Japanese beefs; along with Kobe and Omi. Because of this the city also hosts a beef festival in Novemeber.
Along with beef, Matsusaka is also known for their green tea. The two local products combine in the form of the local mascot, ChaChaMo, who is a green cow with tea leaves for hair.

Matsusaka has neighborhood near the station called Atago-machi. It is referred to as a "red light" district but that is a misleading term as it is a area full of bars rather than Amsterdam-style brothels.
The plushi is wearing the 6-coin insignia of the Sanada clan.
"Kawari kabuto" are unusual helmets that were used to distinguish samurai on the battlefield so they could be identified by subordinates. This festival shows off a number of kawari kabuto.
The red armor (yoroi) of Sanada Yukimura.
The 3-pointed spear was also a trademark weapon of Sanada.
Note that the cosplayer has found a way to use the imitation spear as a selfie stick.
A high fin-like helmet called an "eboshi kabuto."
A very tall kawari kabuto elevated further onto a horseback rider.
This same cosplayer appeared a two days later at the Sanada Festival in Osaka, with other samurai cosplayers.
A rare "ushiro-date" (back decoration) on this helmet. Usually the decorations, date-mono/tate-mono, are attached to the front in the "mae-date" configuration.
The mae-date on this kawari kabuto looks like a gremlin.
An interesting helmet with a snow-shovel shape and a sun emblem.
Local beauty queens in the parade.
A "horo" was a protector worn on the back to deter arrows. 
Menpo were decorative pieces of face armor. Many were designed with mustaches like the one shown here.
This armor looks similar to that of Takeda Shingen, but Takeda was usually depicted wearing a mawari kabuto that had a demonface with horns rather than this U-shape.

Mie prefecture is famous for ninjas. The nearly Iga area promotes their ninja reputation aggressively.
An unusual weapon, a walking stick that conceals a blade and chain, is being demonstrated with a lot of dramatic enthusiasm.
Local students made this attraction, which hauls a few passengers at a time. The driver is crammed into the cows head through small hatch on the side.
The engine seems to be a slow moving electric scooter.
Yosakoi dancers perform in front of the main stage.
Note the naruko clackers which are a mainstay of yosakoi.
An impressive cardboard maze.
Note the lifeguard who is watching over the maze on a step-ladder.
With this armor you can clearly see where the apron portion is attached to the chest protector with lacing, so it is worn in one piece.
A large amount of lacing is used to hold together the plates of armor to make the suit flexible.
The Oda Nobunaga team.
Another photo of this person.
An interesting emblem on this armor. The hiragana "a"
A machinery manufacturer shows off some of their equipment to festival goers. 
ChaChaMo; the mascot of Matsusaka city.
An eboshi kabuto.
Note the hardware on the back of this armor which is designed to hold a banner.
Note the kasa jirushi no kan, the ring on the back of the helmet, which was used to attach the helmet flag, kasa jirushi.
Children playing the melodica, a combination of harmoica and keyboard.
This interesting dentist office occupies an old building.
This kawari kabuto has a long mane.
Here you can see the samurai wearing their back mounted banners.
Also you can see the Matsusaka mascot on a banner in the background.
An interesting surcoat is worn over the armor here.
This group is dressed to represent the Shinsengumi samurai group of Kyoto; who had blue and white surcoats and metal headbands.
This Matsusaka surcoat which depicts a cow.
An impressive eboshi kabuto.
The parade group sets out after a lunch break.
Note the han-po here. It is a half length version of the men-po; it covers the chin and throat but not the face.
These drummers have a colorful canopy of paper flowers.


Note the mitsu-domoe (three yin-yang) emblems on these flags.
The mitsu-domoe is a popular symbol with taiko drummers.
An ogre (oni) ornament on a local store front.
Horses are led through the parade.
A shell-shaped (?) mae-date.
Holding a long spear.
Oda Nobunaga wearing his western inspired plate armor.
Note the elaborate chin straps on the helmets.
Note the holstered pistol here.
Carrying a spear with an interesting crescent shaped mae-date.
A sheathed naginata (halberd/glaive)
An interesting headband.
A mae-dae with a "3" emblem.
Drummers being pulled through the parade on their cart.
Vintage cars on display at the festival.
Vintage cars.
A group of foreigners assembled in costume to participate in the parade.
A jin-gasa, shade hat/helmet.
An interesting mawari kabuto, looks like a Batman character.
Note the armored sleeves, kote, attached to this man's arms.
? emblem on this kawari kabuto.
A good look at; 1- the laced on armored sleeves, 2- the brackets for the back banner and 3- the the decorative metal fittings on the naginata.
An interesting mae-date, perhaps it is a sanskrit character with Buddhist religious significance? 
Mae-date with the butterfly emblem of the Taira clan.
A samurai cheer.
Devil-like mae-date and menpo.
A straight spear (yari) with an interesting handle grip.
Note his Oda Nobunaga themed bear keychain.
A ceremonial sword being carried through the parade in a style similar to what you see in sumo ceremonies.
An elaborate menpo.


References
https://kotaku.com/japans-wonderfully-strange-samurai-helmets-1561217508
https://www.japantimeline.jp/en/mie/festivals/ujisato_festival
http://www.city.matsusaka.mie.jp/site/chachamo-room/chachamo-profile.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gam%C5%8D_Ujisato
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Matsusaka_Castle
https://www.japantimeline.jp/en/mie/festivals/matsusaka_beef_festival

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