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Bamboo pole breaks in direction of good fortune in 1,000-yr-old river ritual in Nagoya

A man climbs up a bamboo pole erected in the Shonai River in Nagoya's Nakamura Ward during the Kinekosa Matsuri river festival on Feb. 7, 2023. (Mainichi/Koji Hyodo)

NAGOYA -- Men climbed a bamboo pole erected in a river one by one in an unusual festival held in this central Japan city on Feb. 7 before the bamboo piece broke toward the south-southeast -- the direction of good fortune this year.

    The Kinekosa Matsuri river festival is said to have a history of more than 1,000 years and has been handed down at Shichishosha shrine in Nagoya's Nakamura Ward and held in the nearby Shonai River. The event is a ritual in which good or bad fortune is predicted by the direction a bamboo pole erected in the river breaks toward. Due to coronavirus restrictions, this year's event was held for the first time in three years.

    Shortly after noon, a total of 12 men, including adults and children, dressed in loincloths, walked briskly into the river holding a 12-meter-long bamboo pole. The men took turns climbing up the erected bamboo piece one by one, and when the third man was climbing up, it snapped off in the direction of the south-southeast with a resounding "bang."

    Masahiko Yoshida, a 61-year-old priest at the shrine, smiled and said, "I was waiting with bated breath because the bamboo was thick and didn't break easily, but I'm glad it broke south-southeast, the same direction of good fortune this year."

    (Japanese original by Koji Hyodo, Nagoya Photo Group)

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