Nada no Kenka Matsuri
(Nada Fighting Festival)
Photography by Thaddeus Pope
For two days in October, the unassuming seaside town of Shirahama, on the outskirts of Himeji City, plays host to one of the liveliest and most dangerous festivals of its kind in Japan. During this time, the Nada no Kenka Matsuri (Nada Fighting Festival) welcomes over 100,000 spectators to watch seven beautifully crafted, two-tonne wooden palanquins, known as yatai, crash ferociously against one another in an impressive display of teamwork, courage and bravado.
Held in a massive natural amphitheater close to Matsubara Hachiman Shrine, the Nada no Kenka Matsuri is an especially high-spirited Shinto festival, bringing the local community together in an annual celebration of great cultural and spiritual significance. The event is a source of immense pride for its participants, binding the community to the past while reaffirming their place in the present.
Based in Japan, Thaddeus Pope is a photographer, videographer and web/print designer with a passion for human-centred visual storytelling. He is available for assignments in Japan and around the world.
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