During the period of Obon in Komatsu, two related but different styles of "matsuri" or festivals are taking place. Both involve the inclusion of one or more "shishi" or lion dancers. We saw the one form in which dancers, musicians and about three lion costumed actors performed in parking lot venues. These dances are essentially a Shinto ritual to invoke a good harvest for people in the community.
The second form of which we have a number of photographs has a large lion costume with a long 'train'. Once a year the lion leaves the "jinja" or Shinto shrine and makes the rounds of the town from morning to night. The lion is followed by what appears to be a 'lion tamer' that attempts to coax the lion back to the "jinja". The lion we observed came from the 'Shinzan Jinja'. This shrine, although only 100 meters away from eldest brother's house belongs to a different district than eldest brother's district. Shrines are usually located on an elevated area surrounded by tall "sugi" or cryptomeria trees. Eldest brother's neighbour used to live on the same hill and in a show of respect for the neighbour the lion and dancers pay a visit to the neighbour. Similarly the group makes the rounds of the town visiting various people and getting "sake" or rice wine to drink. You can hear the taiko drummers at various times during the day. Later after dark the lion is finally persuaded to return to the "jinja".
Click on Komatsu Matsuri to see photographs on Picasa.