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Man dies after being hit by float in Gion Festival parade


A 54-year-old man died after he was hit by a float while taking part in a Gion Festival parade in Usuki, Oita Prefecture, on Friday night.

According to police, Tatsuhiko Kawamura, a caregiver and resident of the city, was hit by one of two floats that he was helping to pull along during the popular summer festival at around 8:20 p.m. He was taken to hospital where died early Saturday morning.

Festival organizers said that at the time of the accident, the two floats, which weigh several tons each, were moving rapidly along the street. Kawamura was at the front helping to pull one of the floats when he lost his balance. He fell to the ground and was hit by one of the float's wheels.

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Some of the festivals here are not the safest places in the world to be, especially for young children and the elderly.

Hate to say this, but if you gotta go, better to go doing something you like doing. The Gion festival is well known for those floats and the danger in moving them around. This guy more than likely knew what he was doing.

Condolences to the family and friends!

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Of all the ways to go...

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I’ve been to a festival on the Tenryu River in Nagano with rafts made of tree trunks tied together. It is crowded on the raft as on a Tokyo train but no rails and just a bunch of people standing on the raft and shouting. Of course a man falls from the front of the raft into the river. His head is hit by the tree trunks and is run over by the raft. The raft continues down the river with everyone all high and festive. Luckily he survived.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Those floats are the highlight of Hachioji's matsuri, which is August 2, 3, and 4 this year. They often stop near each other and battle it out with traditional music and performances by the characters. We always help pull the one from our neighborhood.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I guess saying he was hit by one of the wheels paints a nicer picture than saying he was crushed beneath the wheel.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

We have Boshita Matsuri in Kumamoto, where draft horses are paraded through the streets, often after being given alcohol. The results are predictable.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Yep, well, it is a dangerous thing. One slip and you are under the wheels.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

He wasn't "hit by" a float.

The poor soul was run over by a wooden wheel carrying over a ton of weight. The fact that this accident happened during a traditional ceremony does not excuse the total lack of basic safety regulations.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

R.I.P Brother

1 ( +2 / -1 )

R.I.P. He went out doing what he loved.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Dear Japan Today editor,

This is event is the Hita Gion Festival, not to be confused with The Gion Festival which takes place in Kyoto. Without mentioning “Hita” one assumes it is THE festival registered as a Unesco WH event in Kyoto.

Some clarification for readers would be nice.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

"...the two floats, which weigh several tons each, were moving rapidly along the street."

Moving rapidly? An understatement if ever there was one. In actuality, the floats were being pulled and pushed at maximum, breakneck speed by the excited festival-goers. There is a sort of mass hysteria that infects the crowd at such festive events, and basic safety precautions are the very last consideration.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Be prepared.

And don't stay too close.

Japan is very safe in general.

Suprisingly, for some illogical reasons, all safety nets disappear when it is about cultural events.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Back in the days when mikoshis used to be humongous, I was invited to participate in the Suwa festival in Tachikawa. The mikoshi was really big and they were people on top of it. It would take about 150 to carry it. On a fast turn around a corner street we struck the side of the building and did some damage to it. We continued business as usual as we were all drunk by then.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

@Sensei258- Thanks for reminding me about Hachioji’s festival. It also coincides with the Fussa City Tanabata festival running from Aug 1-4.

Also, Akiruno City, (on the Itsukaichi line from Haijima Station, getting off in Akigawa Station), is very similar to Hachioji’s festival. It has both floats and mikoshis, and the heat is not a brutal as in Hachioji. It is held only one day on a Saturday, so it should be on 3 August.

The city of Hamura on the Ome line holds its festival on the 27th and 28th of July. They bring the Samba dancers. On the same dates, Fussa City holds the festival of dashi and mikoshi fights right in front of the Fussa station in the afternoon after they go around their neighbohoods.

It is definitely one of the best seasons in Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I used to live in Himeji, where the kenka matsuri is held. It is usually described as the most dangerous festival involving mikoshi because they deliberately smash them into each other and the reputation is well deserved. I feared for my safety when I attended, those things are death traps because they have so many people carrying them that they cannot be stopped if someone gets into a dangerous spot.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If someone wants to willingly do this and/or observe, that is their choice. They know this is dangerous. It's part of being Japanese. I'd say you need to be Japanese to understand, except that I'm not Japanese, and I understand.

Likely those of us from countries that have long-standing traditions that sometimes don't always align with the safety-standards in younger first-world countries, have an easier time understanding why people would do this even with the risk.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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