Good things come to those who wait. The “Kaizansai,” honoring the official opening of Kamikochi was held yesterday amid blue skies and great enthusiasm. The blizzards that forced us to hold the festivites under shelter last year were nowhere to be scene as the sun dawned on a brisk but very fine day. Not to be outdone, the attendees turned out in huge numbers to celebrate the start to another brilliant season.
As always, a full Shinto ceremony was held to give official sanction to the event as well as to offer prayers for a safe year.
Since the weather was so good, the festival was able to proceed, as is custom, in the Kappa Bridge area. The jubilant scene included many spectators watching from the bridge itself as the main events took place.
And what would the Kaizansai be without a troop of highly-skilled Alpen horn players to set the mood and remind us of Kamikochi’s history as a place of international interest:
You probably noticed the unusual angle of the pictures above. Indeed, there were so many people at the ceremony that National Park Guide Staff taking pictures for their blog were obliged to use staff priviledge to gain access to a nearby rooftop.
Next, after customary greetings from the guests, prayers were given for safety in the coming year.
The traditional “kamigoto” followed, and the keen-eyed will notice the simply vast quantities of sake on display. Whether this was in the spirit of devotion or revelry, no one was complaining.
As mentioned above, a large number of people secured a space on what is probably Kamikochi’s most popular photo spot, Kappa Bridge. Looking at this picture, you probably have some sense of the attendance yesterday (said to have been around 3,000!)
By the time midday rolled around, the winter jackets people had brought for the morning chill were coming off as warmth and sunshine had people in a sweat.
Other events included a Shishi dance, which is always a delight for the kids.
All in all, this year’s opening ceremony was a wild success, but the best news of all is that, with the park now officially open, all of the business that cater to Kamikochi’s visitors are now open as well–music to my ears, as I am something of a yamagoya connosieur.
We wish everyone a safe and enjoyable time this year in Kamikochi and look forward giving you detailed, up to date news for The Gateway to the Northern Alps in 2014. As always, if you have questions about anything we haven’t addressed, please post them on our wall on the SHK facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Sources of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net
Kamikochi Shirakabaso Hotel website: http://shirakabaso.com
Kamikochi Lameiesta Hotel website: http://www.lemeiesta.com