Translated by MATCHA-PR
Festivals Unique to Kyushu, Shikoku and Okinawa - With Video!
There are many different festivals found in Japan - today we'd like to introduce some taking place in Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Oita, Miyazaki, Ehime and Okinawa in the fall.
Written by MATCHA-PR
Cultures and traditions differing from those found in both Tokyo and Osaka took root in Okinawa, Kyushu and Shikoku regions of Japan. Not only different foods, but different seasonal events and many unusual festivals take place in these areas every year. Today let's take a look at videos of some of the more unusual festivals to be found in the Kyushu and Shikoku regions as well as in Okinawa.
The first festival that we would like to introduce to you is the Takengei Festival, from Nagasaki, that takes place from October 14th to 15th. This festival celebrates the autumn and is held at Wakamiya Inari Shrine. Male and female white foxes are the divine messengers found at Wakamiya Inari Shrine, and during this festival, acrobatic performances on bamboo from the grove behind the shrine are performed by adorable elementary age children in fox costumes. These breath-catching acrobatic feats are performed on five green bamboo poles standing 10 meters tall and are set to traditional Japanese music; it is one of the most looked forward to fall festivals in Nagasaki.
Address: Nagasaki, Irabayashi 2-10-2
Festival Dates: October 14th-15th
Website: Takengei (Japanese)
Matsuyama Fall Festival - Dogo "Crashing" Encounters
Starting from about 6:30 in the morning, this early October festival takes place in front of Dogo Onsen Station in Matsuyama,Ehime prefecture and sees 8 teams carrying large Matsuyama Fall Festival (top left image)
Shonai Kagura Festival
With a 250 year long continuous history, the town of Shonaimachi in Yufu, Oita, is home to a unique Japanese traditional performing art: Shonai kagura (*1). It is so popular here that Shonaimachi is often referred to as "the home of kagura". As each region formed their own kagura troupes, 12 in total, every year in the autumn the Shonai Kagura Festival brings these organizations together to take part in a massive, once a year concert. Each troupe has their own form of dance that they perform; this festival draws more than 3000 spectators from across Japan every year. Paired with the strong taiko drums, both majestic and humorous dances play out during this festival; many find themselves deeply moved by the experience.
*1 Kagura: (神楽), traditional Japanese music played in prayer or worship of Shinto deities or as court music; typically involves instruments as well as singing and dancing. The main instruments are the wagon (6 stringed zither), yamatobue (a bamboo flute), and a means of keeping rhythm, as well as a hichiriki, a small bamboo double reed wind instrument.
Address: Oita, Yufu, Shonaimachi
Festival Dates: November 3rd 2016 (date may change yearly)
Website: Shonai Kagura Festival (Japanese)
Fukuoka's Hojoya Festival takes place every September and is a Shinto ritual where the souls of animals are given comfort and thanks for all that they have done for humans. One of the three largest festivals in Fukuoka, along with the Hakata Dontaku Festival and the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, each year roughly 100,000 people attend this ritual at Fukuoka's Hakosakigu shrine.
Highlights of this festival include the 700 street shops, the Hakata vidro chanpon (a glass bell that has been manufactured since the Edo era), and the famous ohajiki (flat glass marbles) which often sell out before the afternoon of the first day of the festival. Here not only can you watch the Shinto ritual but also see stage performances and many other interesting events.
Address: Fukuoka, Higashi, Hakozaki 1-22-1
Festival Dates: September 12th-18th
Website: Hojoya Festival (Japanese)
Takachiho, Miyazaki prefecture, is well-known as the home of legends in Japan. In this famous city, from mid-November to the start of February the following year, 20 different areas or neighborhoods take part in the Takachiho Yokagura Festival, a kagura festival that lasts throughout the night. Yokagura is a Shinto ritual with a long history wherein the patron deity or deities of shrines are invited to private homes or public halls (called kagura-yado), where performances of traditional music are dedicated as offerings to the deities. For that reason, the order and theme of each community's performance varies, so that even performances featuring the same music will have a completely different taste to them.
Through these performances, a tale or legend regarding one of Japan's gods and goddesses may be fully performed by the end of the festival. Gratitude for the harvests of the present year and prayers for abundant crops in the following year take place during the 33 night-long ritual performances that make up this festival. The Takachiho Yokagura is so important that it was designated as an important intangible folk culture asset by the Japanese government in 1978.
Address: Miyazaki, Nishiusuki-gun, Takachiho-cho, Mitai Temple 1037
Festival Dates: November 22nd-23rd 2016 (date may change yearly)
Website: Yokagura Festival
Naha Odzuna Hiki Festival
The representative fall festival in Naha, Okinawa has to be the Naha Odzuna Hiki Festival, also known as the Naha Tug o' War Festival. With a history spanning over 400 years, this battle requires the use of a massive braided straw rope and takes place the day before Health and Sports Day along Highway 58, where about 15,000 people gather for the event.
Certified by the Guinness Book of World Records, this rope is 186 meters long, weighs 40 tonnes and has a diameter of about 1.5 meters. Age, gender, nationality - nothing matters but the will and strength to fight during this 30 minute limited tug o' war battle. However, there are some years where a winner cannot be decided, so participants must give it their all. The grand finale of this festival is a massive street dance wherein the participants perform the kachasi, an exhilarating traditional Okinawan folk dance.
Address: Okinawa, Naha, Mekaru 2-3-1
Festival Dates: From the Saturday to Monday of the Health and Sports Day National Holiday (Usually the second Monday in October)
Website: Naha Odzuna Hiki Festival (Use on-page translation function for English).
What do you think? In Shikoku, Kyushu and Okinawa can you experience sights and events that simply do not happen in Tokyo or Osaka, not to mention trying different, unique dishes. If you are planning a trip to Japan in the fall, please keep these festival dates and locations in mind, you won't regret it.