Here they are, the inoshishi a.k.a. wild boars. Sasayama city is known for it's wild boars (apparently) and so the fine people decided to dedicate a day to the inoshishi as only Japanese people can do.
The main street was closed down and this interesting cage was sent up. At one end was a hole for the boar cage to butt up against (also the Start) and the other end had a Finish sign that the boars would rip as they ran through. There was a race every hour on the hour all morning.
There they are -- whizzing past! Actually, I thought the races were pretty sad. They used the same 3 boars for each race and they were pretty beat up by the last race. If you didn't already know, boars are kinda aggressive. Shocking, right? So the boars would race down to one end of the cage and then, with nothing else to do, would start running around attacking each other. Then the boar handlers would step in and push the boars, using a wooden board, back into the Start cage. By the last race, they were bleeding and one had a broken leg!! It was really sad and felt bad for them. The winning boar's name is "Shishi-Fire" and although they said they wouldn't eat the winner, seeing how bad of shape they were in, I doubt it.
Also at this festival was festival food. Not just any festival food, but festival food made from, you guessed it, boar meat! I enjoyed a shishi-burger and shishi-sausage. The flavor was a bit different. Gamey?
Yum!It was quite an experience and I'm glad I went, even though I felt bad for the little boars. I think they're kind cute in an ugly kind of way. :)
There was also plenty of souvenirs to buy and a mascot to pose with. Here I am with my Sasayama friends and the friendly inoshishi:
Japanese phrase of the day:
Inoshishi no niku wa oishii desu! Wild boar meat is tasty!