Jul 22, 2019
Gallery - Shiogama Port Festival 2019
On July 15th, the people of Shiogama celebrated the national holiday dedicated to the sea by once again hosting a parade in honor of the city's shrine and port, historically two of the most important factors in the survival of the community.
Unlike last year, the cloud cover for the night previous parted enough for the community to enjoy fireworks over the bay in preparation for the coming festivities. The road near the ferry port Marine Gate was so packed with on-lookers that it appeared black from our vantage point in the external stairwell of our apartment building. Even the roof top parking area of the nearby Aeon Townmall had opened for spectators and food stalls for the first time.
The Vegalta Soccer Team's Cheerleading squad smiled and waved to us as we walked past.
As friends of the Shiogama International Friendship Organization, my daughter and I joined in the fun and took part in the traditional dance that ran through the main street area of Shiogama, just in front of the entrances to the shrine. My daughter, now five years old, was a star of the show. The number of people who stopped to squeal "Kawaii!" at her was uncountable and the number of people who took her picture was even higher. To my surprise, a few of her classmates from her kindergarten were in the crowd and stopped to hug her as we passed by. She really got into the dance, shouting "We love Shiogama!" and "Sore sore SO-RE!" as required in the performance.
The event itself was tiring but we lingered shortly afterward, my daughter inhaling shaved ice while we watched a few other groups pass by. One group included people waving huge, heavy, colorful flags that rippled in the wind. After they passed, we watched the active senior group from the Silver Center, who did the dance expertly in rainbow accented happi robes and their strange pink mascot trailing behind. I have a lot of respect for anyone who donned mascot apparel at a festival like this. I hope they hydrated well.
The group of awa odori dancers were unmistakable in their amigawa hats, though unfortunately I did not manage to capture the name of the group in my photo.
We also saw the fire fighters of the area, which included a line of muscular men thrusting and twirling their matoi flags in the same way their ancient predecessors would have in order to draw attention to a burning building. Now, sirens and smoke do that job well enough but the old ways always make a comeback for festivals and the like.
Also pictured is a group of ladies in what could be confused for patriotic Texan costumes. It is my understanding that these ladies are part of a square dancing or country dancing group that I have seen come through this parade a few times and never managed to catch the name of, though the sight of them is always eye-catching for me, the Texan abroad.
A working mom/writer/teacher, Jessica explores her surroundings in Miyagi-ken and Tohoku, enjoying the fun, quirky, and family friendly options the area has to offer.