Kariya Mando Matsuri

This weekend, we went to a festival called Kariya Mando Matsuri. Kariya is a town about 45 minutes by train from our apartment. The word “mando” means “ten thousand lanterns”. Most of what I know about this festival came from impromptu interviews I conducted on the spot. 😀 Luckily, many of the participants were more than happy to tell me the information I wanted to know! One man even gave us beer while we talked to him!

This festival began in the mid 1700s, and was to honor a fire god. The lanterns depict samurai, fierce looking dragons, demons, tigers, and so on. Each lantern is about 5 meters high, and according to one of the participants, each weighs between 60-75 kilograms (132-165 pounds). The lanterns are carried and swung around by a single man or woman. I was surprised to see that about one-third of the festival troupes were composed entirely of young women! The participants train for about 1 year in order to carry the lanterns. Also, these lanterns are not professionally made. Each lantern is created by its troupe. They are made from lights, bamboo, and washi (Japanese paper).

Now for some visuals!