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ABSTRACT. Modeled after the famous Gion Matsuri, Saijo Matsuri only boasts 300 years of history, yet pride in the local festival is high and those born in Saijo will return there from all corners of Japan in order to take part or simply enjoy three days of revelry in the company of the descending gods. Centered around Isono Shrine (a place of worship dedicated to the goddess Amaterasu), Saijo Matsuri involves more than eighty exquisitely decorated parade floats that are almost continuously carried around the city for two days and two nights. The present paper focuses on the human sacrifice aspect apparent during the festivities, where the participants are somehow unique in their stubbornness about carrying the danjiri (which weigh several hundred kilograms each) for two days, with very few breaks for eating and sleeping. Exhaustion and physical pain become apparent after the first hours and by the end of the second day some of them sleep walk; nevertheless, sadness, not relief, is the prevalent emotion the day after the festival, when the danjiri are taken apart and stored in special warehouses, to be taken out again the next year. pp. 158–169

Keywords: festival; Japanese festival; Saijo Matsuri; ritual; sacrifice; entertainment

CARMEN SAPUNARU TAMAS
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Kobe University

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