秩父川瀬祭歴史・見どころ

歴史

「秩父川瀬祭」は、平安時代に流行した京都・祇園祭の流れをくむもので17世紀半ばには既に行われていたと言われています。もともとは、荒川の、武の鼻川原に渡御※1(とぎょ)し、供物※2(くもつ)を流すだけの神事でしたが、19世紀になると「神輿洗いの儀式」が行われ、明治以降に付祭り※3(つけまつり)として、各町が山車・笠鉾を曳くようになり、現在の祭りの形となりました。

疫病が流行する暑い夏に行い、悪疫除け祈願の祭りとされており、悪疫を追い払う神として信仰される須佐之男命(すさのおのみこと)、水神として信仰される湍津姫(はやつひめ)が祀(まつ)られている、秩父神社の摂社、日御碕宮(ひのみさきぐう)の祭りです。

 

The Chichibu Kawase Festival draws from the traditions of the Gion Festival in Kyoto, which was popular in the Heian era. It is believed to have already been in place by the mid-16th century. Traditionally, it involved crossing (togyo*1) a part of the Arakawa River to present a kumotsu*2 offering to the gods. In the 19th century, however, the rite transformed into one in which the portable shrine is itself cleansed. Since the Meiji era, it has been conducted as a tsuke-matsuri*3 in which the floats from around town partake.

The event got its start in summer as a means of warding off evil in the summer months, when epidemics tended to occur, with worshipers praying to Susanoo-no-Mikoto, a god ridding worshipers of evils, and Hayatsu Hime, a water deity, at Hinomisaki-gu, an auxiliary shrine to Chichibu Shrine.

 

見どころ

「秩父川瀬祭」は、冬に行われる日本三大曳山祭りの「秩父夜祭」と対比する祭りとしても有名で、冬に対して夏、山に対して川、大人に対して子ども、といったように、2つの祭りでいくつかの点で対になっているものがあります。

1日目は、午後7時頃より秩父神社で行われる「天王柱(てんのうばしら)立て神事」が見どころ。全ての屋台・笠鉾が集結し、悪疫退散の祈りを込めて、須佐之男命(すさのおのみこと)を迎える神事です。神社内の全ての照明が消え、雪洞(ぼんぼり)だけのあかりになる瞬間、幻想的な空気に包まれます。

2日目は、何と言っても「神輿洗いの儀式」が見どころ。午後2時半頃、各町内から選ばれた34名の若者が重量約400kgもの白木造りの神輿を担いだまま荒川の清流に入り、「ワッショイ」という掛け声とともに神輿を洗います。また、もう一つの見どころが、度々行われる笠鉾・屋台の「曳き別れ」や「すれ違い」。いくつかの笠鉾・屋台が集まり、秩父屋台囃子を叩きあったり、声を出し合うその場は、祭りの中でも最高潮の熱気に包まれます。

19日の夜には花火大会も行われ、スターマインが秩父の夏の夜空を彩ります。

《注釈》
1、渡御:神輿・山車などが出かけて行くこと
2、供物:神仏に供えるもの。お供えもの
3、付祭り:神事の他に祭りを盛り上げるために行うもの、山車・屋台を引くなど

 

Even compared to the Chichibu Yomatsuri, considered one of Japan’s three great festivals for floats, the Chichibu Kawase Festival holds its own and is quite famous. The festivals are like two halves of one whole, taking place in winter and summer, in the mountains and rivers, and involving adults and children, respectively.

On the first day, the Tenno Bashira rite is held at Chichibu Shrine around 7:00 PM, and it is well worth a look. All of the floats congregate here and make a prayer of offering to Susanoo-no-Mikoto for the cleansing of evil. All of the lights around the shrine are turned off, with only paper-covered lanterns being used. The instant they are set up, the grounds are transformed into a magical mood.

On the second day, the standout attraction is the mikoshi cleansing ritual. Around 2:00 PM, a select group of thirty-four wakashu from around each town hoist aloft a portable shrine weighing about 400kg and made from unfinished wood. They enter the clear streams of the Arakawa River and shout “wasshoi” while ritually cleansing the shrine. Another attraction is the hikiwakare and surechigai, where the floats pass through the crowd. The floats congregate in one place and perform music back and forth, with performers chanting. This is one of the most intense moments in the whole festival.

On the 19th, a fireworks festival is held, with “starmine” fireworks lighting up the summer skies of Chichibu.

Editor’s note:
1. Togyo: portable shrines and floats making a procession out from their place of storage.
2. Kumotsu: making an offering to the gods.
3. Tsuke-matsuri: pulling shrines and floats to liven a festival and for reasons other than sacred rites.

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