The Geta Matsuri is a ritual held on an island 14k off the coast of Honshu. Just before dawn of January 1st, local men dressed in sacred white garments from head to toe carry a white ring called "Awa" to an awaiting crowd holding bamboo poles. Once the Awa arrives they are used to lift it high into the air. There are two legends regarding the Awa. One says that the higher it is raised, the larger the catch of fish that year. Another one suggests that it represents the sun and by dropping it to the ground before the real sun rises locals are able to rid misfortunes and bring in a peaceful new year. Enjoy the mysterious atmosphere of this festival, with echoing sounds of bamboo crashing and the brute force of the local men controlling them.
Local men arrive with the Awa while its still dark, wearing the traditional garment known as Shiroshozoku. The Awa is a sacred ring that is only for those in the Shiroshozoku to touch. The Awatsuki starts once it ring reaches the awaiting men whereupon it is raised high up into the air. Voices are also raised as the sky starts to brighten and the Awa is returned to the ground. The real sun replaces the "fake" one and the people welcome in the new year.
At this festival, along with the making of the Awa, a compact 12 cornered pillar known as Saba is also created. It is marked with 365 notches for every day of the year and is supposed to bring loads of happiness to one lucky person. After the Awatsuki, the Saba is thrown into the middle of the crowd whereupon everyone scrambles to be the one to claim it as their own.
Early booking for accommodations is urged as they are limited in numbers
Access to Shrine
Line: Sangu Line, Toba Line, Shima Line
7min walk from Toba Station on JR or Kintetsu Line to the Toba Marin Terminal. From the terminal take the city ferry to Kamishima (40 ride). 15min walk from Kamishima Port.
*The Geta Matsuri is held in the early ours of Jan 1st so you must arrive the day before in order to view.
Yatsushiro Shrine Address:
1 Kamishimacho, Toba City, Mie Prefecture