Ibaraki Prefecture has long been famous for its bamboo, ever since the 2nd lord of the Mito Domain, Tokugawa Mitsukuni (Mito Komon), first began to protect and encourage their cultivation.
Hitachi bamboo dolls are handmade from high-quality bamboo such as Japanese timber bamboo, as well as 'moso', 'monchiku', 'kurochiku, 'toratake', 'susutake' and 'gomatake' bamboo.
These dolls are made from bamboo that has been naturally dried over 2~3 years and is oil-free. Each part of the doll is made from bamboo and pieced together using bamboo nails. Colors and patterns are then painted on the carved and sculpted surface of the bamboo.
Usually the dolls are based on figures in Noh and Kabuki drama and are very elaborate. There are also dolls that depict local characters, such as the Komon and Umemusume dolls. Lovely animal figures for each year of the Chinese zodiac are also carved from bamboo using the same technique as the dolls.
Anori ningyo shibai is a puppet play performed at the Anori Jinja Temple in Ago-cho, Shima-shi, Mie Prefecture. This puppet play has been passed down as a form of dedication to gods during festivals at Anori Jinja, and is a folk entertainment with a history of about 400 years.
Anori ningyo shibai dates back to 1592, when the Lord of Shima, Kuki Yoshitaka, visited and prayed at Anori-no-Hachimangu (today's Anori Jinja) before participating in the Bunroku-no-Eki (Toyotomi Hideyoshi's Invasion of Korea). Kuki was successful in Korea. On his return, to show his gratitude for the divine protection he was given, he ordered a puppet performance, which is thought to be the origin of the Anori ningyo shibai.
What is unique about Anori ningyo shibai is that each doll takes three people to maneuver. Although it is difficult to synchronize their movements, having three people operating one doll enables them to perform a variety of gestures, motions and dynamic movements. This performance in which three people maneuver one doll can only be seen in Bunraku puppetry. In 1980, Anori ningyo shibai was designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset of Japan.
Tarumi Waterfall is a rarely seen kind of waterfall because it runs from a cliff directly into the sea. It is located between the towns of Wajima and Suzu in Ishikawa Prefecture, and is an outstanding feature of the 2km-long Sosogi shoreline.
The head of the waterfall is 35m high. The waterfall usually runs down the cliff into the sea like a white thread and never stops, even in mid-summer.
On windy winter days, however, the view completely changes; spray does not fall into the sea but into the sky! This makes it a so-called 'Upside-down Waterfall'. Flowers of waves splash in the sea and the waterfall goes up to heaven like a dragon; it really is like a scene from fantasy.
There is a walkway near the waterfall that you can enjoy walking along. But, if you see the 'Upside-down Waterfall', it means it's a very windy day, so you should be careful.
Kurokawa Noh drama is a traditional form of folk theater that is performed in Tsuruoka district (or in the Kushibiki Ooaza Kurokawa area), Yamagata Prefecture. It is designated as an important intangible cultural asset.
This Noh drama has been performed for 500 years as a dedication to Kasuga Shrine, the tutelary shrine of Kurokawa. The main difference between this Noh drama and other forms of Noh is that it was not a sophisticated drama performed for people of the samurai class.
In fact, Kurokawa Noh was traditionally a drama form beloved and enacted by farmers. There are further differences to other Noh, such as the separation of seats. At present, Kurokawa Noh is performed by about 160 actors, and has 230 masks, 400 typical Noh costumes, as well as 540 repertoires and Kyogen numbers.
Undoubtedly, Kurokawa Noh is a traditional folk performance on a huge scale. Annually, it is performed 6 times at the shrine and over 10 times outside, in response to demand.
The Children’s Kagura is a traditional dance from Nima, in Ota, Shimane Prefecture that dates back to the Edo period.
Nima is a community dependent partly on agriculture and partly on fishing, and faces the Japan Sea. Only about 280 families live here.
It is said that, beginning in 1751, the Omoto Kagura dance became a children’s dance.
From January 1st to 3rd each year, children perform the Kagura dance at night. Elementary and junior high-school students from Takuno enact the story of Susanoo-no-mikoto’s dragon hunting and his encounter with Princess Inada Before the adults, the children play the roles of dragons, immortals, demons and foxes.
In 1964 (Showa 39), the Children’s Kagura was designated an intangible cultural asset of Nima. In 1969 (Showa 44), this Kagura was peformed before the crown prince and princess (the present emperor and empress) of Japan.
Children’s Kagura was performed in the United States as a part of a cultural exchange program.
The Kagura dance by the children of Takuno has been passed down for many generations and will continue to do so.
Sada Shrine is located by the Sada River, near Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. It is both an historical and an influential shrine, second only to Izumo-Taisha, and was built in 1684.
The main shrine is built in the Taisha style, with halls in three rows. In the main shrine, twelve gods are enshrined. In the main shrine is the Saiehiogi, one of the oldest existing paintings on a fan screen. The shrine possesses a number of designated national cultural assets, such as the Sada Jin-noh, a drama form that influenced the Satokagura drama throughout the country.
The Sada Jin-noh is played during the famous Gozakae and Reisai festivals on the 24th and 25th of September, respectively.
In addition, in November during the Jinzai festival (held to expel bad luck, including fire and flood), it is said that a multitude of gods gather here at Sada Shrine. This is why Sada Shrine is also known as the ‘Jinzai shrine’.