The Autumnal Equinox holiday weekend is the biggest of the year for the Kamiyamada Kagura Lion Dance troupe to which I belong. Every shrine in Kamiyamada holds a Harvest Moon Festival, and our troupe splits up to perform in the various ceremonies.
Once again this year, on the first day I helped with the Yasaka Shrine's festival. Then on the 2nd day, I played the flute all day for the shrine that watches over our onsen town, Habeshina Jinja.
For the festivals, we have a procession that winds through the respective districts, stopping at the homes of the festival elders to do a lion dance. We also are invited to give blessings at newly built homes as a commemmoration. During those performances, besides doing the dance in the living room, the shishi lion stops at the kitchen, bath room and toilet room, as well, to ward off evil spririts.
I usually accompany the lion as it goes through the house, and this year I realized something for the first time: the lion carries a katana sword in its mouth during those occassions.
I thought katanas had been outlawed in Japan! This was definitely one of those situations where I didn't want to ask too many questions!
Pictures are some various scenes from the Yasaka Shrine Harvest Moon Festival.