Annual Boat Festival Held as Autumn Colors Brighten

A hearty hello to all of our loyal readers around the globe!

There’s a noticable chill in the air these days as the days grow shorter and autumn marches slowly and steadily toward its peak.

Yesterday beginning at 11:00am, the annual Boat Festival (お舟祭り, or ofune-matsuri) was held on Myojin Pond. Specatators delighted at the pageantry as priests and their attendants road two small boat to the center of the pond to deliver water from another branch of the shrine Hotaka Shrine in Azumino City.

These splendidly colored boats were adorned severally with two significant figures. One is a dragon, believed to deliver the water with the greatest possible speed:

The second carving is that of a mythical bird called a geki ( 鷁 ), which is revered for its ability to dispel ill-portent.

Together these two fantastical creatures are called ryuutougekishuu ( 龍頭鷁首 ).

The festival’s main ritual is performed by shrine attendants known as kannushi (神職), who traditional wear clothing of Japan’s Heian Period (784-1185). A live performance of gakaku (雅楽) classical music further suffused the scene with a solemn, ancient ambiance.

One of the main functions of the ritual is to commemorate the souls of people who perished in accidents in the Noorthern Alps over the past year, while offering solace to their families.

Autumn Update, 2023

At time of writing, central Kamikochi is reporting lows of about 8 degrees Celsius on an almost daily basis. Warm clothing is essential, especially in the early morning. That means jackets, fleeces, warm trousers and socks as well as gloves and hats. You’re also well advised to have a bag large enough to stow some items away if you get warm during a hike. As always, rain resistant clothing is strongly advised.

Though autumn colors have yet to hit their peak, the prime period for viewing maples is just around the corner.

Here you see an aeschulus turbinata, displaying lovely plae yellow hues:

This Acer micranthum (a small leafed maple native to Japan, is showing more tentative colors, offering promise of what’s to come:

Anyone travelling to Kamikochi should do their best to arrive on a sunny day to get the best experience possible, but for those who can’t managae this, misty days have a charm their own.

Thanks as always to the fine folks at Five Sense for posting the info and images used in this blog.

That’s all for this week’s blog. We hope you are all well and stay warm and wish you all the best this autumn season

Soruces of Information:

Nature Guide Five Sense, Kamikochi blog: