Amagoi Kasa-odori is a rain dance ritual performed at Noda Shrine in Noda Town, Kariya City, Aichi Prefecture, in late August every year. The dance is dedicated in front of the altar after the holy sake and candles are offered. The rain dance has been handed down for nearly 300 years since 1712. Although it was discontinued in the early Show period (1926-1989), it was revived by the local preservation group and has been performed to this day. It is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the city.
When the singers start to sing the rain-making song and the shrine priest performs the purification ritual, the dancers in yukata with the bottoms tucked up into the obi belts and the sleeves tucked up with red tasuki sashes and wearing the wide-brimmed straw hats appear in the dancing field. They stand face-to-face on both sides of the drums with short drumsticks called “Tsuroro” in their hands and start to dance in a refreshing manner. During the dance, the dancers look up at the sky to the blowing of the conch horns.
Hatamatsuri is a festival held in Nihonmatsu City, Fukushima Pref. The festival originates in the old story during “Zen Kunen no Eki” or Earlier Nine Years' War (1051-1062). When Minamoto no Yoriyoshi and his son Yoshiie were defeated by Abe no Sadato, they took flight in the mountain of Kihata with a few vassals and made a prayer for winning the battle. The night falling on, it started to snow and the whole mountain was covered with snow. Abe no Sadato, who saw this in the next morning, mistook it for white flags and returned without fighting, which led to the victory of Minamoto forces and they could successfully brought Mutsu Province under control. The festival is counted as one of Three Banner Festivals in Japan. The men in Yamabushi (mountain practitioner) costumes carry large banners in five colors of white, red, blue, yellow and pink, and march along the ridge of Mt. Kihata, blowing horagai (conch-shell trumpet). The parade with men carrying white banners at the head of the line go heroically along the mountain path in the cold wind, which deeply moves spectators and exhilarates them.
Kurikara is a pass between Toyama and Ishikawa prefectures. It is also the site of a battle fought during the famous Genpei War. At the Kurikara battlefield are various historical spots relating to the war, such as the Genpei Memorial.
In 1183, the Minamoto clan blew conches, beat drums and released a stampede of 500 cows against the Heike clan. The Heike clan were exhausted by the long march from Kyoto and their warriors were unprepared. Unable to gather themselves in the darkness and resist, the army retreated to Jigoku valley.
Later, this site was named Kagyu-no-Kei and is recorded in the 'Genpei Josuiki' chronicle. The memorial is located in Sarugababa, which is a few minutes walk toward Oyabe district from Kurikara Park.
In May, the blossom from the cherry trees planted near the memorial glow as if to soothe the spirits of the fallen warriors.
The Ookubo-ji is a temple located in Sanuki-shi, Kagawa Prefecture, and is the eighty-eighth temple of the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites scattered across Shikoku (smallest of the four main islands of Japan).
These eighty-eight pilgrimage sites were established by Kobo-Daishi Kukai (Japanese monk, scholar, poet and artist) as places of enlightenment and training, and also as holy places for people to get rid of their misfortunes and sorrows.
It is said that the number 'eighty-eight' represents the number of worldly desires humans have, and that by navigating the eighty-eight pilgrimage sites, a pilgrim can be liberated from these desires while his true ambitions and hopes can be granted.
The eighty-eighth temple, the Ookubo-ji, is considered to be the final destination of the religious process. At this temple, the deity of the Buddha of Healing (Yakushi-nyorai) is enshrined. Normally, the statue is holding a medicine vase in his right hand, but the statue at this temple is holding a triton. This is because the triton is supposed to strike away people's suffering and distress.
A gorgeous double Tahoutou pagoda stands behind the main temple. Even further behind the site, lies a cave in which Kukai reputedly trained. Pilgrims who cleanse themselves of the eighty-eight desires and finish the whole religious process at this temple, leave their canes here as a tribute and to show that they have safely finished the transformation. The number of canes left at the temple is innumerable.