Saturday, May 5, 2018

Ako-Oishi Shrine 47 Ronin Memorial


The story of the 47 Ronin is a popular tale of revenge in Japan that has been presented across every medium. The story of the 47 Ronin first became popular as a Bunraku puppet play known as the Chushingara (Treasury of the Loyal Retainers). The details of the story vary but most people agree on have become familiar with a version that goes something like this;

Two noblemen had a quarrel, Lord Asano and Lord Kira. Tempers flared while the two were in the imperial and Asano slashed at Kira with a blade, cutting his face but not mortally wounding the man. Simply drawing weapons at court was considered a serious offense and the attack on Kira was cause for Asano to be forced to commit suicide.
After suicide of their lord his samurai retainers lost their positions. With Asano's men dispersed the samurai of Kira were reasonably on guard against possible revenge attacks, expecting his men to complete their master's grudge. The samurai scattered an took up new occupations to avoid suspicions but secretly plotted a revenge strike (kataki-uchi / 敵討ち). After more than a year the men converged on Kira's mansion, slew him and turned themselves which led to them all being forced to commit suicide.

The story was a hit in an era when the samurai spirit was seen to be waning and the ideology of a feudal social structure was noticeably decaying. The story became a symbol of samurai pride and national identity.

The event is now celebrated at the cite of the event (known as the "Ako Incident" / "Ako Jiken").
The is a shrine dedicated to the leader of the ronin, Oishi Kuranosuke, called Oishi Shrine.
The town also holds a festival in the honor of the 47 Ronin in early April every year.

The following photo journal was recorded on April 8th, 2018.

Ooishi Kuranosuke. The leader of the 47 Ronin. This statue stands outside of Banshu-Ako station.

Traditional dance that involves twirling paper parasol. There are many variations of the "Higasa Odori (Parasol Dance).

I like the anachronistic image of people in costumes using smartphones.

Yosakoi dancers.

Colorful costumes with "naruko" (wooden clappers)

Mii-chan wears an apron with the names of the 47 Ronin.

Mii-chan is the mascot of Iri Fisheries.
He does not usually wear this apron. He has a large "Mi" written on his chest.

An all girl troop dressed as Edo-period samurai.

Manacchi, the mascot for the fish market of Bizen city. The character is described as a 15 year-old girl who loves seafood.

More fins and the market name, Makuichi, on the backside of Manacchi.

A tengu holding a spear decorated with paper talismans.

The large-nosed with a mane of paper talismans.

Shishimai dancers. Here the lion creature is in a contorted position.

A singer performs in the street wearing a furosode.

A confetti canon entangles the leaders drumstick.

The ronin having a laugh.

The girls pose for photographers.

Some dramatic chanbara poses.
The prop sword is looking quite rusty.

Muscians performing American rock music, including the music from James Bond movies.

A black cat version of the 47 Ronin as a tourist promotion.

A temple bell at Taiunzan Temple.

A manhole cover with a 47 Ronin theme.

Jinta-kun wears a haori surcoat with the iconic pattern of the 47 Ronin; and also his own image is on the back.

Jinta-kun's head is shaped like a drum.
Note the futatsu-domoe emblem on his drum/head.

His profile states that he represents the Ako Tourism Department.
He is designed to connote the image of  Oishi Kuranosuke and his drum.
His profile states that his favorite food is local dish called "Shioaji Manju" (salty manju).

A kids' kendo tournament being held at Oishi shrine in honor of the 47 Ronin.
Note that the kids are doing kendo outdoors with shoes on, which is unusual.

Straw mats are laid out on the walkway for the participants to use while they prepare.

Awards being given at the end of the tournament.

A group of kids doing suburi.
Note that they all have colorful tsuba, this must help the kids identify their own shinai.

The onigawara (roofcap tile) bears the shrine's emblem which is a futatsu-domoe mark. These marks are often seen are Japanese drums.