A tug of war is held in the sea during the Bon season in August every year in Hado Fishery Harbor in Chinzei-cho, Karatsu City, Saga Prefecture. It was originally performed in memory of the souls of warriors who lost their lives in battles when Toyotomi Hideyoshi stayed in this village to dispatch his troops to Korea.
The rope used for this unique festival is made by young men in the town on the day before the festival. It is 40 cm in diameter and 35 m in length. On the day of the festival, men in local fishermen’s traditional clothes called “Donza” dive into the sea at the signal of a drum and hold each end of the huge rope floating in the sea. Then the men play at a tug of war, dynamically splashing water and valiantly shouting encouragement.
It used to be held on July 15 on the lunar calendar but now it is held at high tide on August 15.
There are a lot of autumn festivals to pray for bumper catch and a rich harvest held at many shrines in Muroto City, Kochi Prefecture in October. Some unique festivals include Niwaka Drama Play at Sakihama Hachimangu Shrine, Lion Dance at Hane Hachimangu Shrine, Hanadai Float at Onda Hachimangu Shrine and Abare-Mikoshi (Mikoshi Rampage) at Muroto Ojigu Shrine.
The autumn festival at Shiina Hachiojigu Shrine is a very dynamic festival befitting to the town of gallant fishermen. This festival is known for the unique ritual of Mikoshi-Arai (Mikoshi Washing). The Shinko (the god’s travel) procession of the main mikoshi (portable shrine) and the accompanying mikoshi starts the main shrine located in Shiina Town at Cape Muroto. It parades through the town and heads for Shiinazaki Coast, where the men carrying the accompanying mikoshi go into the sea and go forward in defiance of the raging waves of the Pacific Ocean. Their struggle to hold up the mikoshi overwhelms the spectators.
After the mikoshi procession returns to the shrine, the Shiina Tachi-odori Dance is dedicated to the deity at the stage set in the oratory hall of the shrine. The dancers perform Kabuki-like dancing to the sounds of clappers beaten against the floor. They also take the gesture of “mie (holding a pose)” during the dance.
Iwafune Festival is held in order to pray for safety at sea, a bountiful catch and for good business. It is a dynamic festival befitting to the fishery town of Iwafune in Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture. It is designated as a prefecture’s intangible Cultural property.
The festival starts with the beats of Saki-daiko (the leading drum) at midnight on October 19. Then Saki-daiko goes around the route of the parade three times in the early morning to purify the way of the god’s excursion.
The shrine deity is loaded onto the magnificent vermillion multi-lacquered Ofune-sama (boat) at the shrine gate and carried to the Otorii Gate accompanied by Mikoshi, Tamayari and the float carrying a sacred horse. When the parade gets to the torii gate, Ofune-sama is loaded onto “Ofune-yatai (the Ship float),” which is joined by eight other floats called “Shagiri.”
Then the parade led by Ofune-sama Shagiri goes through the town accompanied by ohayashi festival music and the festival folksong, “Kiyari-bushi.” The Shagiri parade continues until late at night when the deity of the shrine finally carried onto the back mountain behind the shrine. The round voices of Kiyari-bushi singers echo through the town filled with autumn colors.
The Grand Festival held in September every year at Kure Hachimangu Shrine in Nakatosa Town is one of the three largest festivals in Kochi Prefecture. It’s a traditional Shinto event, in which Japanese sake and rice cake made of newly harvested rice plant are dedicated to the Hachiman god in appreciation for the rich harvest in fall.
The festival dates back to the Warring States period (1493-1573), when the villagers in this area, who had been suffering from famine, had a thanksgiving festival because their prayer for a good harvest was answered by the god.
This is a festival of valiant fishermen. At 2:00 AM on the festival day, the parade of people carrying the big straw torch called “Omikoku-san” with a length of 6 meter and weight of about 1 ton starts from the festival leader’s house called “Toya” and go through the town to the shrine, where it is set on fire. The accompanying drums are hit against each other on the way, which is called “Kenka-Daiko (Drums’ Fight).” In the afternoon, the “Onabare” dance is danced to entertain the god, who has taken a short excursion to the beach.
On the first day of the festival, the front approach is lined with a lot of night stalls and the fireworks display is held at night. The precinct is crowded with townspeople and tourists including those from outside the prefecture.
Kutsuki-kei (also Kutsuki Keikoku or Omi Yabakei) is a scenic site in Kutsuki, Takashima, Shiga Prefecture.
Kutsuki-kei is a valley featuring pristine nature. The valley extends for about 3km from Takaiwa Bridge to Arakawa Bridge. The presence of irregular-shaped rocks and the silent flow of water make Kutsuki a fantastic sightseeing spot.
The v-shaped valley is formed between the Tanba and Hira mountain ranges. In spring and summer, many fishermen come to the Ado River that runs through the valley. The valley is located to the northeast of Kutsuki village and is especially beautiful at the time of the autumnal leaves.
Because the Ado River provides a passageway for fishing boats to enter the Sea of Japan from the villages, it is also called 'the Mackerel Way'. Kutsuki valley is indeed a scenic spot, which shows off nature's magnificence.
The Yase-otoko mask is used for the ghosts of dead men who have fallen into sufferings of hell. It portrays the fisherman who has landed in hell for the crime of killing fish or the ghost of the hunter who repents of his past misdeed and comes back from the afterworld. This haggard man, who has lost all vitality, has the hollow eyes, sunken cheeks, protruding cheek bones, and thin eyebrows and hairs around the mouth. His eyes are complaining of anguish that he cannot be relieved of even after death. The Yase-otoko mask is used for such plays as “Kayo Komachi,” “Fujito,” and “Utou.” It is always used with the Kuro-kashira mask, which represent a ghost. The extreme expression of this category is the Kawazu mask.
A long time ago, a fisherman from Togitsu Beach caught a great amount of mackerels and decided to go to Nagasaki to sell them. When the fisherman was about to pass under this rock, he thought: 'This rock might fall any moment, so I shall wait until it falls'. He waited for a while. And as he waited, the mackerels slowly began to rot. The name 'Mackerel Rotten Rock' comes from this story.
This rock is of hornblende andesitic volcanic propylite. Appearing at any moment to fall, the rock changes its appearance in every season. Today, incidentally, the rock is fixed in concrete, so it will never fall.
Eboshi Rock (Eboshi: formal head gear worn by Japanese men from the Heian period to the modern era) is a 15m-high rock on the Chigasaki Coast of Kanagawa Prefecture. It is situated in the center of the 30 Ubashima Islands, and lies 1.2km off the coast.
Eboshi Rock is estimated to have been formed around 3~6 million years ago. The layer around Eboshi Rock is the oldest in the Chigasaki area, and seems to be an elevated layer that had accumulated at the bottom of the ocean.
The sea around Eboshi Rock has provided good fishing grounds for a long time, and there were even struggles between the fishermen of Izu and the local fishermen of Owada in the Edo period.
The tip of Eboshi Rock used to be much more like an 'eboshi' than today. The rock had its long tail to the west. However, that tip was lost when the rock was used as target practice by the U.S. army after the war.
Eboshi Rock is still loved by the people of Shounan, and is the symbol of Chigasaki.