It is said that several members of the royalty and high-ranked warriors of Baekje, an ancient kingdom located in southwest Korea, came to Japan in exile after they were defeated by the alloed forces of Tang and Silla. One of them Prince Fukuchi (in Japanese) arrived at Kaguchiura in present Takanabe Town in 660 and lived in the town of Kijo. The place where his house was located was called Hiki (火棄) by local people.
Tough unable to understand their language, local people respected the prince and his retainers, who had high level of knowledge. After the prince died, he was enshrined as Hiki Daimyojin. In 852, the kanji representing its name were changed to “比木” and Hiki Shrine was established.
Prince Fukuchi at Hiki Shrine and his father, Prince Teika enshrined at Mikado Shrine meet each other once a year at Shiwasu Festival of Hiki Shrine. It is a Shinto ritual to console the princes and their royal retainers, who had to leave their homeland and lost their lives in a foreign country.
Maizuru Park in Takanabe Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is where Takanabe Castle was located till the end of the Edo period (1603-1868). As the shape of the premise looked like a crane wheeling in the sky, the castle was called “Maizuru Castle (Flying Crane Castle).”
Maizuru Park Cherry Festival, or also called Maizuru Castle Ruins Cherry Festival, is held from late March to early April. During the festival period, 1,000 stocks of mountain cherry and Somei Yoshino are in full bloom. 2,000 stocks of azalea also come into bloom in this season, making a wonderful contrast with the cherry blossoms. The cherry blossoms are lit up at night.
The park is bustled with people who enjoy cherry blossom viewing as well as a lot of events such an the athletic meet, a local product fair, a sketch contest, an entertainment show, tea ceremony and lighting of Maizuru Lantern.
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.
Jugoya Festival (Moon Festival), or popularly called “Jugoya-san,” is held on around the 15th day of the 8th lunar month every year in Hyuga City, Miyazaki Prefecture. The whole city is wrapped in a festival mood with a lot of tourists from inside and outside the prefecture.
It is said that this festival originates in the festival of Tomitaka Hachimangu Shrine, which was founded by Nasu no Yoichi and Kudo Suketsune to bolster the morale of the soldiers of their troops, who had come to Kyushu in pursuit of the Heike warriors having escaped from the battle field at Dannoura. The enshrined deity at this shrine was transferred from Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura at this time.
On the festival day, the parade of Mitate-zaiku, the flower floats and the dancing teams walk through the city. In the recent years, Hyuga Jugoya-daiko drum performance is added to the festival program, which further warms up the festival mood in the streets.
The Takanabe Kagura dance has been handed down in the towns of Takanabe, Kijo, Kawaminami and Shintomi in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the prefecture. The origin of the dance is not clear, but it is presumed from the stone monument and old shrine documents that it was already danced in the Heian period (794-1192). Takanabe Kagura is a simple and elegant form of dances classified as one of the Iwato Kagura dances that have been passed down in the Aso area.
It was originally dedicated to a shrine in every village in the area. In the Edo period (1603-1868), it came to be performed mainly at Hiki Shrine, which is an old and established shrine with a history of several hundreds years and was given protection by the Takanabe domain.
Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), the dedication of the Takanabe Kagura dance has been called “Daishinji (Grand Ritual).” Presently, 33 plays have been handed down and performed at the six shrines in the old domain area, which take the responsibility of the performance by rotation once every six years. At the dedication ritual, the dancers perform 33 dances quietly and elegantly throughout the night.
Genroku Bouze Dance, or Genroku Buddhist Monk Dance, is dedicated to the deity of Itsukushima-jinjya Shrine located in Minashiro Miyanokubi, Shintomi-cho, Yuyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, and is performed annually on August 15th according to the lunar calendar. The dance is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by the town.
Genroku Bouze Dance has been passed down since Muromachi Period in four neighboring areas of the town; Miyanokubi, Hiraikura, Yadoko and Oku. During the rule of Takanabe Akizuki Clan, the dance was performed as part of the festival dedicated to the water god mainly at Hiokimizunuma-jinjya Shrine which was associated with the clan.
The dancers consist of more than five groups of three people, a monk, a man and a bride as well as singers, drums and clappers accompanying them.
The dance celebrates a rich harvest, and there is a storytelling element where a man and his bride are dancing together happily, a monk tries to cut in between them and get in the way. It contains the theme of human drama which became popular at the end of Edo Period.
Genroku Bouzu Dance is a folk art that has a long history passed on through the generations.
Koshimizugaike Pond located in Hioki in Shintomi Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a pond, which is oblong in north and south and about 1 kilometer in circumference and 7 hectare in area. Having never dried up, the pond is covered with beautiful lotus flowers in summer. From the middle of July to the middle of August every year, white and pink lotus flowers come into bloom and colorfully decorate the surface of the pond.
In winter, lotus roots are harvested in the unique method that has been handed down in this area. It is said that cultivation of lotus roots started by Akizuki Taneshige, the 7th lord of the Takanabe domain, as the measures to save local farmers from food shortage in winter.
Beside the pond is Mizunuma Shrine, which is said to have been founded in the Genroku era (1688-1703). The enshrined deity, Mizuhanome no Kami, is worshipped by the local people as the goddess of agriculture and prevention of bad luck concerning water.
Takanabe Wetland is located in Takanabe-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Pref. In 1968, when Takanabe Disaster-Prevention Dam construction was completed, spring water in the mountain forest pooled into the place where sediment was brought out for the construction and formed the wetland. The wetland area was arranged into a park and open to public in 1998. The wetland is composed of the two parts; the eastern wetland and the western wetland. The promenades of the both wetland part are connected by a hanging bridge named Tonbo-no-hashi (the Dragonfly Bridge).
The wetland is the habitat of a variety of flora and fauna including insects, especially dragonflies, and over 300 species of plants such as Habenaria radiata, which reminds us of an elegant egret, bladderwort, which looks like an ear pick, and a very rare species of barberry that can only be found in the area around Ise Bay and this area of Takanabe and Kawanami towns. Although it is less than 40 years since the wetland was formed, its vegetation has begun to be well-established and attract the attention of the ecologists.