During typical Shinto festivals, you expect to see gods like Ebisu. You don't expect to see One Piece characters smashing into each other. Then again, this isn't your typical Shinto festival.
Here, you can see a festival float (山車 or dashi) with Ebisu holding a sea-bream.
This is the kind of imagery that often appears. But at the Harimichi Abare Dashi (Riotous Float Festival) in the city of Nihonmatsu, you see can see anime and video game characters year after year in early October...crash into each other.
For goodness' sake, this festival isn't only about One Piece! Characters from Naruto, Gundam, Yokai Watch, Frozen and more have gotten their own floats. (One Piece, though, seems pretty popular.)
The inclusion of anime and games is not recent. These types of characters have been appearing at this festival for decades. The festival itself, however, began in 1758.
And yes, there is smashing.
Which looks rather dangerous, seeing how there are people inside the floats playing instruments and riding on top.
Often in Shintoism, the point of festivals is to entertain the kami (deities) to ensure a good harvest or to show gratitude. But this one is rather unusual.
This festival originally featured dancing like you typically see at these types of events, but as Daily Portal Z reports, apparently it started raining at one festival long ago, and a float accidentally smashed into another one. And that is supposedly how this practice, which marks the harvest, started. (Daily Portal Z heard this story from an old lady at a food stall, so your mileage may vary!)
But what about the anime characters? Dashi can also feature characters from folklore (like Kintaro), so in the regards, including modern day folklore heroes makes sense. As traditional as Shintoism might seem, it can often move in highly untraditional and modern ways. For example, I once had a Shinto priest bless my cell phone. I've also had cars I've owned blessed.
Usually, there are around four or five anime or game floats each year. Below you can see photos of the festival from the event's official Facebook from over the years. Check the link for many more festival pics.
If you happen to be in Nihonmatsu during October, the festival looks like quite an experience.
Top GIF: 針道のあばれ山車
To contact the author of this post, write to bashcraftATkotaku.com or find him on Twitter @Brian_Ashcraft.
Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.