Hiroshima: Demons drum up rain for good harvest

The Yomiuri Shimbun
A resident dressed in a red costume and a demon mask beats a drum in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture.

MIHARA, Hiroshima — People dressed as demons and wearing happi festival coats beat drums and gongs to pray for a good harvest in Mihara, Hiroshima Prefecture, last month for the first time since 2019.

The Chin Kon Kan annual ritual held at Osuga Shrine in Mihara is said to have started in the 16th century, and to have originally been intended to offer thanks to cattle and horses. Over time, however, it gradually became a ritual to pray for rain and to ward off insects.

The gongs represent the sound of thunder and the drums the sound of rain. The name of the ritual is said to derive from onomatopoetic sounds of the instruments.

The event was canceled for the past two years due to the novel coronavirus outbreak. This year, a group from the city’s Osaka district, one of the seven groups in the city that have carried on the dance’s tradition, performed the dance.

As the gongs were sounded in front of the shrine building, residents dressed in demon masks or red costumes danced and beat drums, a spectacle the crowd met with applause.