Feb 062013

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Onda Matsuri and Ta-asobi—literally “playing in the field”—are one of the oldest festivals in Japan. They are held in winter or early spring and serve as a way to preserve and pass the knowledge of rice cultivation from generation to generation.

During those festivals a religious ceremony praising five grains of Japan takes place. It is usually followed by a pantomime of planting rice on the field. To entertain the audience some gags are put into the performance.

In addition such festivals often feature some kind of play related to human fertility serving as a way of sex education.

In Asuka Village the Onda Matsuri festival is accompanied by a strange custom of spanking people by masked men.

Practical information

Asuka Onda Matsuri festival is held in Asuka Niimasu Jinja (飛鳥坐神社) shrine. The closest station Kashihara Jingu-mae on Kintetsu Railway (attenion: there is a station called Asuka, but it is farther away from). From station you can walk, but it is quite a distance so you might consider renting a bicycle at the station.

Except for the area around the station, it is a real rural area with no restaurants in vicinity, though during the festival you might find some shops offering meals.

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