Festival in Tottori prays for maritime safety

Hundreds of festival-goers have gathered at a port in western Japan in a traditional ritual to pray for safe sea voyages.

Karo Shrine near the port in Tottori city holds the Hoenya festival every other year.

The event was suspended during the coronavirus pandemic and resumed on Saturday for the first time in five years.

About 200 people including elementary schoolchildren carrying portable shrines and high school students dressed as samurai paraded from the venue.

Upon reaching the port, about 100 participants loaded the shrines onto a barge and sailed around the port where fishing boats are anchored.

Men in distinctive makeup chanted "Hoenya, hoenya" from small rowing boats floating around the barge.

The festival is said to have started after local people sailed to an island off Tottori to rescue Kibi no Makibi, an eighth-century Japanese delegate to China, whose ship had drifted aground.

A man in his 60s said he was moved to see the festival again after people had been unable to gather for so long due to the coronavirus.

He said he hopes the children who took part will continue to do so after they grow up.