Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Fox's Wedding

People in fox masks follow a rickshaw carrying a fox-masked couple through the streets of Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, in a ceremonial wedding procession that is part of the Inahomatsuri festival on Nov. 3. (Akihito Sugii)

Cryptic wedding march of 'foxes' beguiles spectators at Yamaguchi festival

The Asahi Shimbun  November 04, 2015  By AKIHITO SUGII/ Staff Writer

KUDAMATSU, Yamaguchi Prefecture--Lines of people in fox masks silently marched through city streets here on Nov. 3 as part of a ceremonial wedding procession, in a mysterious and eerie sight.

As the curious cortege wound its way along a 1.5-kilometer route in the area around Hoshoji temple, tourists and local residents gathered on the sidelines to snap photos of the bizarre scene.

The temple contains the Hanaoka Fukutoku Inarisha shrine, dedicated to fox deities. The arcane ritual was part of the Inahomatsuri (Ear of rice festival) held that day.

The festival started in 1950, but has its roots in a story from the mid-Edo Period (1603-1867).
According to legend, the spirits of a pair of foxes appeared at the bedside of the head priest of the temple and told him they wished to be buried properly.

After the priest erected a tomb for them, it is said that residents could find whatever they had lost when they visited the temple and prayed to the foxes.

The festival is held annually to pay homage to the fox spirits.

A traditional float built using giant bags of rice and a group of children headed the procession. Next were a young man and woman wearing fox masks who posed as newlyweds riding a rickshaw. They were an anonymous unmarried man and woman from the area, as their participation in the ceremony is said to bring them luck in finding an ideal partner.

But, as with tradition, the identity of the masked newlyweds was kept a secret.

A rickshaw carrying a fox-masked couple posing as newlyweds moves past Hoshoji temple in Kudamatsu, Yamaguchi Prefecture, as part of the Inahomatsuri festival on Nov. 3. (Akihito Sugii)


This video clip from Akira Kurosawa’s film “Dreams” (1990) is from the segment entitled “Sunshine Through The Rain.”

from Wikipedia

Sunshine Through The Rain

There is an old legend in Japan that states that when the sun is shining through the rain, the kitsune (foxes) have their weddings (this is a common theme globally – see sunshower). In this first dream, a boy defies the wish of a woman, possibly his mother, to remain at home during a day with such weather. From behind a large tree in the nearby forest, he witnesses the slow wedding procession of the kitsune. Unfortunately, he is spotted by the foxes and runs. When he tries to return home, the same woman says that a fox had come by the house, leaving behind a tantō knife. The woman gives the knife to the boy, implying that he must commit suicide. The woman asks the boy to go and beg forgiveness from the foxes, although they are known to be unforgiving, refusing to let him in unless he does so. The boy sets off into the mountains, towards the place under the rainbow in search for the kitsune's home.

Kurosawa built a near exact replica of his childhood home for this segment, and the nameplate on the gate even reads "Kurosawa". Kurosawa even showed the actress playing the mother a photo of his own, and gave her tips on how to act as her.

Hiroshige - Gathering of Foxes at Oji: Utagawa Hiroshige 1857  click image to enlarge