Japan has a lot of exciting things to do at the start of the new year. Apart from the colorful “osechi” and extravagant fireworks display, another interesting celebration is held every January 3rd for the purpose of having “good luck.” The celebration is known as “Tamaseseri” or Ball-Catching Festival which is primarily held in Fukuoka.
The festival is mainly participated by two groups: Land Team and Sea Team. The Land Team consists of farmers while the Sea Team of fishermen. An 8-kg ball (takara-no-tama) is the center of everyone’s attention. It is believed that the person who can lift the ball over his head will be given good fortune. Thus, everyone scrambles to capture the ball. If a member of the Land Team gets the ball, New Year will bring rich harvest to the people. If a member of the Sea Team gets the ball, New Year will give the people a very good catch. This explains the name Tamaseseri Festival where “seseri” symbolizes to touch or to compete.
At exactly 1 in the afternoon, two balls are brought to the Tamatori Ebisu Shrine. These are purified balls of “yang” and “ying.” The yang represents masculinity, brightness, passion and growth while the yin represents femininity, shadows and the trough of a wave. These are carried by the children and are handed to the men. At this time, the men will compete for the ball. To make it more challenging, the participants will be drenched in cold water while being half-naked which brings about excitement in the crowd. The festival is held in Hakozaki Shrine, which is just 5 minutes walk from Hakozaki Miya-mae subway.
Tamaseseri is one fun event you should never miss in Fukouka. The happiness of people cheering for the ball is just as exciting as being a participant. Which of the teams do you think will bring good luck this coming year?
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