Purification of the sea. Getting wet at the annual Hamaorisai Sea Festival in Chigasaki.
Once a year in July thousands of people gather at sunrise at the fishing port of Chigasaki to join the Hamaorisai Matsuri – one of Japan’s most vivid spectacles. Dating back to back the ninth year of Tempo (1839), this annual festival is believed to have started when the sacred palanquin of Samukawa Shrine was carried away and lost in the Banyu River on the way back from the Kokuhu Festival. The palanquin later reappeared up on Nango Beach in Chigasaki City. Thus ever since, the festival has been held in this place. The “Hama” of Hamaori Festival is believed to mean “Descent of God”.
The festival commences with a procession of mikoshi, or portable shrines, each carried by a score of believers from the local shrines of Chigasaki and Samukawa. After a purification ritual on the beach, the 40 or so mikoshis depart one by one down to the sea – with the carriers and crowds chanting ‘Dokkoi Dokkoi’ in unison. They appear to be dancing. In each mikoshi, the ghost or spirit of a Shinto shrine deity is believed to ride.