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What's going on in Japan? (No.29)

ICHINOMIYA, Chiba Prefecture -- Revelers at the annual Kazusa Junisha festival here had good reason to feel a special bond with tsunami-stricken northeastern Japan this year. The festival was held Sept. 13 on the famed Kujukurihama beach. Many of the participants wore good luck charms called "misanga," created by fishermen's wives in Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, on their wrists. The amulets were made with thread for repairing fishing nets, and 500 were purchased for the occasion, raising 400,000 yen ($5,200) for the stricken community in the Tohoku region. Misanga are supposed to be worn until they decay and fall from the wearer's wrist. At that point, it is said that the person's wish will come true. The highlight of the festival was when nine "mikoshi" portable shrines hoisted on the shoulders of loinclothed men were carried at a steady clip along the sandy beach.

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