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.”
Sunshine Through The Rain
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.