Every summer, newcomers to Chigasaki’s Southern Beach are treated to what would be a strange site. A loud, early morning festival crowds the beach, carrying large, ornately decorated shrines down the sand and right into the water. If you haven’t heard of the Hamaori Festival, it may be a bit of a shock. But for the residents of Chigasaki, it is a long running tradition that marks the height of the summer season.

It is said that the Hamaor iFestival started in 1839, when a portable shrine (mikoshi) from Samukawa Shrine was lost in the Banyu River. Several days later, the mikoshi was found by a local fisherman on a local beach. The mikoshi was returned to Samukawa and a festival has been held on Chigasaki’s beaches ever since. Chigasaki’s own Tsurumine-Hachimangu had a similar festival nearby, which was combined with Samukawa’s in 1923. Now, the festival is held every year on the third Monday in July.

This year, the Hamaori Festival will be held on Monday, July 17th, on a national holiday called “Sea Day” (Umi no hi). Very early in the morning, a mikoshi sets out from Samukawa Shrine bound for Chigasaki Southern Beach. Along the way, more than 40 other portable shrines join in the march, reaching the beach by dawn. At about 07:00, once all of the shrines have arrived, gone for a swim, and settled in on the beach, a ceremony is carried out. By 8am, the shrines begin to disperse back to their homes and the festival winds down.

The Hamaori Festival is one of Chigasaki’s most famous events. More than 70,000 people usually attend and participate in the festival. It should be getting up early for, so check it out.

Article from Chiagasaki Breeze #68
Written by Dave Hanschen
Photos by T.I.