Matsushima Lantern Float Festival Fireworks Display is held on August 17 every year along the coastline of Matsushima Bay including Matsushima Coast. The Lantern Float Festival was first held about 700 years ago as the Buddhist ritual. The priests at Zuiganji Temple, which was the largest Zen temple in the Tohoku district at the time, floated the lanterns onto the sea and read mantra to send off the spirits of the ancestors. Today, a lot of citizens float the lanterns onto the sea praying for their ancestors’ souls from their heart.
Over the light of numerous lanterns floating on the sea, about 8,000 fireworks are shot up into the dark sky. The gorgeous displays of Starmine and a 30 cm diameter ball along with the flames of the lanterns create fantastic scenery. Matsushima Bay is famous for its scenic beauty, but on this specific night, a lot of people come to visit this area to see another gorgeous scene of Matsushima Bay.
Lantern Festival is held in the area around Maizuru Park in Takanabe Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, on around October 15 every year under the theme “To foster the moral principal,” which was the motto of “Meirindo,” the official school of the Takanabe domain established by the 3rd lord of the domain, Akizuki Nobutane, in the late 17th century.
About 1,500 stone and bamboo lanterns place in the main festival site as well as in many places in the town are lit at the same time, which fantastically illuminate this old castle town. Among them are unique paper lanterns made by elementary and junior high school students. Including the volunteers who light lanterns, all the townspeople cooperate with one another to make the festival successful.
On the festival day, various events such as the jazz concert “Horidoko no Utage” and the local product fair are held everywhere in the park.
Tatekoshi Shrine located at the top of the hill next to Guzeiji Temple in Natori City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine known for housing the guardian god of this area. The enshrined deities are Ukano Mitama no Kami, Omiyahime no Kami and Sarutahiko no Kami.
It is said that Kobodaishi Kukai transferred the deity of Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto to this place and founded this shrine as an attached shrine of the temple when he founded Guzeiji Temple in 811. As the area around the shrine was on the Old Oshu Kaido Road and the Abukuma River, it was called “Tatenokoshi,” which meant “the strategic spot to protect the lord’s residence” from the enemies; hereby the shrine was named Tatekoshi Shrine. In 1867, the shrine was separated from the temple according to the ban of Shinbutsu Shugo (the fusion of Shinto and Buddhism) by the Meiji government.
At the entrance of the shrine is a unique stone lantern erected in 1924. The lantern is supported by four Sumo wrestlers and a fox is placed inside the lantern. The main gate and shrine pavilions were burned down by fires and the present buildings were all constructed in the Showa period.
Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival is held annually in Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture. 300 lanterns and 2000 bonbori lanterns, all of which are made of snow, are lined across Matsugasaki Park on the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of February.
The sight of the candles flickering in the wind creates a magical beauty, inviting visitors into a surreal fairytale-like world. An immense snow monument built for soothing the souls of those who were never able to return to their hometown alive during the World War II, stands on top of the Hill Of Requiem located in the center of the park. Throughout the night, citizens come to light candles in memory of the dead.
A snow-viewing party is held at the neighboring Uesugi Kinenkan hall, where the local cuisine can be enjoyed. It is a great luxury to toast and feast on the local sake and cuisine while quietly viewing the flickering snow lanterns outside.
Kariya Mando Festival is a historical festival held in Kariya, Aichi Prefecture. It is designated as an important cultural asset of the prefecture.
Kariya Mando Festival has a history of 200 years. When vicious hunger attacked the people, the Kariya Castle lord wished for rain: rain followed and saved the people. Therefore the festival is also called the 'rain-making ritual'.
'Mando' is a picture of a warrior in armor. Mando is also like a large lantern 5m long and 2m wide. The mando is made of wood and washi paper. The mando is carried by the townspeople. At night the lantern is lit and the warrior depicted on the lantern is iluminated to create an imaginary world.
Kariya Mando Festival is held annually on the last Saturday and Sunday of July.
Nara Park is a city park in Nara Prefecture and the official name is ‘Nara Prefectural City Park Nara'. The park covers an area of 502 square meters and is one of the biggest city parks in Japan. If the area of the park were to include the surrounding temples and shrines, it would be over 660 hectares. Usually, the area including the temple and shrine is called Nara Park.
The area includes famous temples and shrines like Todaiji Temple, Kofukuji Temple and Kasuga Shrine. In addition, there is a primeval forest on Mt Kasuga. These have been designated as World Heritage sites, as well as cultural assets of the ancient capital, Nara.
Many deer wander freely in Nara Park and they are supposed to be servants of Kasuga Shrine and are allowed.
In early August, the Nara Candle and Flower Festival is held and people place candles at every spot in the park as decoration. The festival is quite new but has proved popular among tourists.
Kenrokuen is one of Japan's three most famous gardens and is best known for its huge circuit-style garden fully equipped with ponds and fountains built by the Kaga Domain. At that time, construction of the garden and its features cost the equivalent of 45 billion yen today.
Construction of the garden began in the first year of the Kannei period (1624), and was completed nearly 200 years later. Of all the gardens that actually have records remaining, Kenrokuen took the longest to complete. The garden was eventually expanded to 100,700m2 and, depending on the location and period when each section of the garden was completed, the many different tastes and sensibilities of the various master-garderners can be seen.
The largest artificial hill inside the garden is called Yamazaki Hill. The design of this hill and its surroundings was directed by Enshuu Kobori, while actual construction was completed by Kenntei.
There is much to be seen besides the garden itself, such as the Souan Tea Room and the Kotojitourou (Kotoji Lantern), with every scene appearing different according to the season.
The name 'Kenrokuen' comes from 'Chronicles of the Famous Luoyang Gardens', a book by the Chinese poet Li Gefei, and was chosen by Sadanobu Matsudaira Gakuou at the request of the Kaga Domain 12th Lord Narinaga.
The Hirosaki Neputa, a summer festival held in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, is one of the four major festivals in Hirosaki. The people of Hirosaki parade throughout the city towards the call of "Yahh-Yahh-Do", pulling the parade floats of warrior figures and warrior paintings. Around 70 neputa parade floats, including the ougi-neputa (a fan-shaped neputa) and kumi neputa (a man-shaped neputa), run during the festival.
It is told that neputa beganin the second year of the Bunroku period (1593), when the patriarch Tamenobu Sato held a huge, 2 ken square-sized lantern (approximately 3.62meters square) in the Urabone festival during his stay in Kyoto.
There are a variety of tastes in today’s Hirosaki Neputa, such as Kodomo-Neputa (Children’s Neputa), and Mae-Tourou (lantern with letters on the front side). The dynamic beauty of these floats overwhelms the viewer. The powerful Kagamie is displayed on the front, and the fascinating beauty Miokurie appears on the back.
The Hirosaki Neputa wasdesignated an important intangible folk-cultural property of the country in 1980 (Showa 55).