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A traditional festival in which men from the Nijo Fukae region pray for the safety of their families as well as an abundant crop, the Momote Matsuri takes place at Yodogawa Tenjinsha/Tenmangu Shrine on the Sunday closest to January 25.
The highlight of the festival, the rice-eating contest, comes after each man has fired an arrow from a homemade bow to predict their luck for the year. Heaping bowls of rice are then traditionally eaten with four dishes (sea lettuce miso soup, boiled whale with Japanese parsley, sardines, and a dish of raw fish and vegetables seasoned in vinegar), and the strategy of the eaters and their servers as well as the sight of participants holding their stomachs in pain yet continuing to eat incites the crowd.
The name “momote” was derived from a kind of archery, exhibitions of which were the main attraction of the festival when it began in the Edo Era (1605 - 1868), but now the rice-eating contest is the main event loved by locals as a new year tradition!
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