The Ere-kotcha Miyazaki festival started in 2002 and is a revival of the Miyazaki Furusato festival that was first held in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Miyazaki City. It is a new type of festival, blending traditional Bon dancing with modern-style dancing.
The festival is held on the last two days of July. There are two main events. One is the 'citizen's dance', a large-scale dance with 10,000 people dancing to local folk music. The other event is the dance contest, Ere-kochya Miyazaki, held in downtown Miyazaki. This contest involves various groups and teams of dancers, and performers from all over Kyushu, who express the hot summer through their bodies.
'Ere-kotcha' means 'a great matter' in the dialect of Miyazaki. And indeed, the festival is filled with great excitement.
Other attractions of this festival include the 'Taiko-mai', a performance by taiko drum groups from around the prefecture, and the 'Kitchen Garden', where the rich ingredients of Miyazaki can be met. These various events and performances wonderfully represent the spirit of the festival.
Chin-kon-kan is a dedication dance performed annually on 16 August at Ushi Shrine (Osuga Shrine) in Shinkura-cho.
A large masked demon in a red costume with a small hama-bow, and a smaller demon with a 6 shaku-sized staff (approx. 6ft long), dance to the rhythm of bass and snare taiko drums and bells.
It is said that this Ushi Shrine was built in the Tenmon era (1532〜1555) to enshrine dead cows. Later the dance also became a prayer for rain and to repel insects.
Chin-kon-kan is also known as 'Chikkon-kan', and sometimes written in Chinese characters with the phonetic equivalent letters of bamboo ('chiku'), root ('kon')and stem ('kan'). Probably these various ways of writing chin-kon-kan derive from the sounds made by the musical instruments.
Chin-kon-kan was designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset of the prefecture in 1959 (Showa 34).
The Hita Gion Festival is held to pray for peace and ward off evil and misfortune, and takes place in Hita, Oita Prefecture.
The Hita Gion Festival is an epic festival held every summer to protect the community from illness and damage from floods and storms, as well to pray for peace. It began as a festival to ward off evil in the Kuma and Mameda region. Soon, genuine, full-scale hikiyama (floats in the shape of samurai helmets, fish, dragons etc.) were built, along with the development and elaboration of the festival, which has continued to develop into its present form.
In 1988, the 10m-high yamaboko (festival float) was revived for the first time in 90 years and was simply mind-blowing. Nine sets of yamaboko go around the city day and night, and compete to be the most luxurious and gorgeous float. Gion musical accompaniment is an imperative and essential part of the rounds of the city, with its unique sounds of the flute, drums and shamisen. The all-star roundup of the 9 yamaboko in front of Hita JR station is impressive and spectacular. In 1996, the festival was designated an important intangible folk cultural asset of Japan.
Yotsudake is a musical instrument from Okinawa, used when performing the Ryukyu dance Chabirasai. Yotsudake, which means 'sorry' in Okinawan, is an instrument where the musician holds 4 pieces of bamboo in each hand and makes sounds by hitting them together. Bamboo is traditionally the sole material for this instrument, but more recently, musicians hold the bamboos in place on their fingers using rubber bands.
One of the dances in which the yotsudake is used is sometimes called the Yotsudake-odori. Many other beautiful dances by women also incorporate the yotsudake.
As mentioned before, 'yotsudake' in Okinawan means 'gomenkudasai' ('sorry'). The elegant dancing and lively sounds of the yotsudake, nicely exemplify the atmosphere and mood of Okinawa. Recently, the yotsudake has been used even in Kyoto, in a new dance called Kyoen-Sodefure, and is a good example of the Ryukyu culture spreading out into the mainland of Japan.
Kurushimakudouchi is a song that accompanies the dancing typical to the small island of Kurushima, one of the Yaeyama Islands in Okinawa Prefecture.
According to the 'Shimauta-kikou' ('Notes about Island Songs'), the song and dance forms, now known as the Kurushimakudouchi, were developed during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The Kurushimakudouchi uniquely differs from other forms of Yaeyama entertainment in that the song follows a mainland-influenced concept called Shichigo-cho (a song composed of 7 sounds, followed by 5 sounds then repeating that pattern) that depicts folk traditions in a humorous, yet very lively, dance song. To this song, the dancers dance in an outfit that is supposed to represent the women of Kurushima: Basho clothes fastened by a Minsa sash, with a white towel wrapped around their heads, and bare feet. The outfit is definitely one of the main features of the Kurushimakudouchi, but the emotion and passion of the dancers is the most alluring point of the dance.
The Kurushimakudouchi is unique even in Japan, with its humorous and lively songs, and its passionate and expressive dancing.
Every year in the middle of September, a folk song event called Mugiyamatsuri (Mugiya Festival) takes place over two days in Nanto, Toyama Prefecture. The melody played during the festival is called 'mugiyafushi' and was composed by farmers working in fields of wheat ('mugi'). The melody emanates sadness and sorrow, but with the linear, brisk dancing, the result is a serene and meticulous collaboration of sound and movement.
About 800 years ago, the once-powerful Heike clan fell after their defeat at the battle of Dannoura. The Heike clan sought refuge in a secluded area called Echugokayama. The Heiki people became farmers, and sang the mugiyafushi as they harvested the land.
It is said that the 'mugiyafushi' originated from a song from Wajima on the Noto Peninsula, that was sung while making noodles. The merchants who sold noodles and wheat would travel from Noto to Echu, spreading songs such as the 'notomugiyafushi' and 'madara'. These songs eventually made their way to Gokayama, where they became known as the 'echumugiyafushi'.
Today, events such as performance competitions between citizens, as well as the 'mugiya odori' dance, take place on a special stage placed within the Johanabetsuin Zentokuji.