On September 23, 2019 I made my way to Sakakiyama Shrine in Kumano, Hiroshima to celebrate Fude Matsuri.
The brush festival almost did not happen.
The purpose of my trip to Japan this year was to partake in ALL the festivities of the brush festival. When I visited last year, there were some activities that were cancelled. You can read about my 2018 brush festival adventure here.
In all my research about the said festivities, I found out that there is an event on the eve of the brush festival.
I do not have any specific details nor could I find anything about it on line ~ just a small indicator on a flyer that there was going to be some sort of a celebration from 6pm onwards. I was told by Sonia G. that it’s mainly celebrated (music + hard drum performance) by locals with less fan fare.
Cut to the day before the festival, September 22, 2019, severe tropical storm “Tapah” was passing through the southwestern part of Kyushu. It was raining very hard.
At around 4:20 pm, I hopped on the train in Hiroshima Station for Yano Station. The rain was starting to fall. It wasn’t super strong rain, but it did make me question if I should cancel my trip to Sakakiyama Shrine. I was having an internal conversation with myself if I should turn back, but I’ve managed to convince myself that I had nothing to loose.
When I got to Yano Station, the rain started to pour down in earnest. Now, you have to understand, I am Filipino and I have experienced different levels of torrential rain in my life to know when I need to be worried. I wasn’t worried. I hoped on the local bus and made my way to the Kumano-Eigyosho bus stop ~ I walked to the shrine from here.
Within a minute of getting down from the bus, my shoes got soaked! It was pouring rain! It was a “what the heck am I doing here?” kind of rain. I stood at the bus stop for 10 minutes to asses if it was still a good idea. There was some wind, but it was mostly just rain. With stubborn determination I started walking towards Sakakiyama Shrine.
In my “meandering” in the rain, I saw a big float being driven around town accompanied by traditional music. I began to wonder if this was the float I saw on various Fude Matsuri Videos on Youtube or the one I saw when I was walking around Kumano town a few days ago. Is it part of the festivities to drive it around? Is it telling people that the eve celebrations are about to start in 45 minutes? I ask myself.
As I was nearing Sakakiyama shrine, my heart began to sink. I had a feeling the event was cancelled. My “feeling” got confirmed when I reached the highest step of the stairs leading to the shrine. No one was there. It was only then I realized that I should have had checked the Fude Matsuri website first before I left Hiroshima City. I felt like an idiot. I folded my umbrella, sat under the eaves of the shrine and checked the website.
Indeed, as stated, the eve celebrations were cancelled. Unfortunately it was also stated on the website that, they will let everybody know early the next day IF the brush festival is to push through ~ it all depended on the weather.
My heart dropped.
So I just sat there, stared unto the rain. I traveled 1542 miles for this. After what seemed like an eternity, with resignation, I stood up. I faced the shrine, clapped to the deities, bowed and prayed for a miracle.
I made my way back to Hiroshima City.
September 23, 2019
I wasn’t able to sleep much. Not because I was worried, but because it was the first time in my life I have experienced a wind storm. There was no thunder, no lighting, no rain. Just wind. LOTS of wind. It was like Totoro was passing over all night, repetitively. I was staying with a good friend, Poli, who lived on a third floor apartment in Hiroshima City. Everything just rattled. The apartment, the window frames, the window panes. My papers were flying around, dishes and cutlery were falling over. I woke up for the nth time in the middle of the night to fully close all of the windows because the wind just kept woooooshing in.
I woke up at a little after 8 am. Before I rolled out of bed, I grabbed my phone and checked the Fude Matsuri website. The Festival was pushing through as planned.
I arrived at the festivities a little bit after 10 in the morning. The sky was blue and the sun was shining brightly. A complete “180” from the day before.
Because of bad weather, I noticed that some parts of the entire set up were not yet complete. Some parts of the walk way leading to Sakakiyama shrine were not festooned with brushes. Some men were still installing a scroll. Most stalls were not yet stocked. BUT I have to say, despite the delay, the festival went on efficiently.
The Brush Memorial Service was celebrated at the Fudezuka.
The Fudenoichi (Brush market) was a flurry of activity.
The Shodo Contest was filled with students vying for a variety of prizes.
Brush masters were doing demonstrations on how to make brushes/brush heads were at their usual places.
The Large Calligraphy Performance was created by Mr. Muroi.
And the Kumano HighSchool students performed with their Taiko Drums.
Same as last year. (You can read about my 2018 brush festival adventure here.)
Having been to last year’s festivities, I wanted to see the events that I missed. If you go to the 1:45 mark of my video, that is the start of the Higanbune parade. There were two smaller floats that were paraded before the “giant” float arrived. It was so fascinating to see the townsfolk pulling the floats into the forecourt of Sakakiyama Shrine. I noticed that it was the men who handled the giant Higanbune. After they have placed the float in it’s proper position, (see 2:51 mark) there were six Japanese men who pushed the float counter-clock wise and upon reaching the initial starting point they pushed the float clock wise again. Then they stopped once they reached the initial starting position.
The two bamboo rods that were jutting out of the float created a circular mark on the ground. At the 3:35 Mark, Fude Odori (Brush Dance) takes place. I believe the dancing is spearheaded by The Kumano Town Women’s Association. I saw that there were exchange students here. I think they were encouraged to join not only in the dancing but in the pushing and pulling of the big float across town. It must have been quite an experience.
What I failed to capture, except for a snippet on my Instastory filed under Hiroshima 19, was the group of people who went up the float after the dancing. I was so surprised when they started throwing small packs of tissue, mochi and other things to the crowd! I found out these were “lucky” items. I tried to grab some “lucky” mochi but, I guess that was what everyone was going for!
The other highlight of this year’s brush festival is I got to meet Sonia G. Sonia is known as Sweet Make-Up Temptations (https://sweetmakeuptemptations.com). She is a blogger who developed her own brush line called Sonia G Brushes – her entire range is made in Kumano, Japan.
Sonia G. and I have been friends on Instagram for over a year now. It all started last year when I was doing research about Fude Matsuri. One day, I just decided to key in the word #FudeMatsuri on the Instagram search bar, and after hitting “enter” there was Sonia’s posts. After perusing through her IG page, I decided to send her a DM asking her about the brush festival and she replied. The funny story was, I actually saw her in walking around the brush market during the festivities and I said to myself, “She looks familiar.” but I brushed it off because I couldn’t place her. After the festival, I saw her again in passing at the train station and she was looking at me. Again I said to myself, “She looks familiar.” and brushed it off ~ it was only when I got back to Manila that I realized she was the person I DM-ed in Instagram. I quickly shot her a message and a funny exchanged ensued. As promised, if we manage to bump into each other at the brush festival this year we would have a chat. And We did.
Go follow her blog and buy her brushes!!!
I also got to meet YouTuber Michele Wang through Sonia G. They were together along with another friend, Mel Durga. I found out through the course of our conversation that Michele reviews luxury makeup and skin care products on her channel. I told a good friend of mine, Marlon, that I met a certain Michele Wang, and he went into total fan girl mode! I am about to binge watch her videos as of this writing.
The desire to attend this year’s Fude Matsuri (Brush Festival) was quite strong. Traveling is not as easy as it may seem. It takes effort, time, money and proper scheduling ~ being a little smart helps too. This flight was a reward ticket. I pooled all of my credit card points (after YEARS of just sitting there) from 2 credit card companies and poured it to my GetGo account. When I first calculated how much points I would get, it wasn’t enough for a round trip ticket. Luckily, GetGo had a promo that ~ if you convert “this much amount of points” from your credit card GetGo will give you this much bonus points. With those bonus points added to my actual points, it was enough to cover my roundtrip tickets and my seats. The only thing I paid for was the taxes for the flight. I booked this ticket around my birthday last April.
Two weeks before flying, to my horror, I realized that Autumn Equinox this year was on Sept. 23rd ~ the day that I was to fly back to Manila was the date of Fude Matsuri.I don’t know how I came up with the realization that Autumn Equinox was on September 22nd this year. I was ready to rebook my flight BUT, I decided against it because it was too expensive; it was like buying a regular ticket. Sadly I would have cut my Fude Matsuri experience short to catch my flight home. Two days later, I get an email saying that Cebu Pacific re-timed the flights to and from Osaka and offered the opportunity to rebook my flight without a fee! I jumped for joy. Despite the typhoon that passed through the Chugoku region, despite almost cancelled festivities, I believe if you are meant to be somewhere ~ the universe will conspire to take you there.
Kumano, Aki, Hiroshima Japan
Hiroshima is located 325 Kilometres from Osaka. Prior to flying into Osaka, I purchased a JR West Sanyo – San’in Area Pass. This entitled me to ride on the JR West Rail system for 7 days. This particular JR West Pass allowed me unlimited travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka, To Kyoto, To Nara, to Hiroshima ~ all the way to Hakata. For more information about the JR West Pass, click here.
Let me say that the products I am using has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. Always be discerning when purchasing cosmetics or skin care products. Always read the label and the literature! Always do a patch test before you purchase a product for the first time to see that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed.
This video/post is not sponsored. The products that are shown here are the products that I always use, love and live by.
The videos and pictures were shot using my Iphone 7.
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