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春日町 おまんと Kasuga-chou Omanto Omanto Festival at Kasuga-cho

Jp En

Omanto at Kasuga Town is a festival held at the Kasuga and Yatsurugi Shrines in Kasuga-cho, Aichi Prefecture, on the first weekend each October.
Its origin is not known, but it is believed that the festival started in the beginning of 1800, when horses were dedicated to the Kasuga and Yatsurugi Shrines to pray for rain.  The festival is said to be the biggest in the Nishi-mikawa region.
In the festival, young men wearing happi festival coats and jikatabi rubber-soled socks enter a riding arena of about 100 meters in circumference and start running toward horses that have been decorated with bells and flowers. They grab the horses’ muzzles and run around the arena at a fast speed.
In precincts of the Omanto Shrine there is a rounded square preserved solely for this festival. On the day of the event, 40 ~ 50 horses are gathered from seven neighboring towns and released in the square. All participants running with horses become as if they were one with the horse, and a powerful and exciting scene unfolds in front of a big crowd of spectators.

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古高鼓踊り Furutaka-ko-odori The Koodori Dance in Furutaka

Jp En

Koodori (drum dance) is dedicated at Daishogun Shrine in Furutaka Town in Moriyama City, Shiga Prefecture. It is a traditional folk performing art, prefecturally selected as an intangible folk cultural property.

In the Middle Ages, farmers often suffered droughts and offered prayers for rain by, in extreme cases, offering their beloved daughters as the sacrifice to the god. Koodori (drum dances) have their origin in the Dengaku Odori dances performed in hope or appreciation for rain during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). They are danced to the chants with distinctive tunes.

The Koodori dance in Furutaka Town also derives from Furyu dances, a boisterous dance that the townspeople in the Muromachi period (1336-1573) amused themselves, in that the dancers in flamboyant costumes dance to the Ohayashi music and chanting. It is said that the repertoire of Koodori in Furutaka comprises 19 traditional pieces. In one of the pieces that was revived recently, more than 50 dancers including handy drum players and “Gonbe,” who have referee's fans in their hands, dance in double circle around four chanters singing a traditional folk song.
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篠田の花火 Shinoda-no-hanabi Shinoda Fireworks

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Fireworks are displayed at Shinoda Shrine on May 4 every year for the shrine’s annual festival. This tradition dates back to the Edo period, when villagers made fireworks using potassium nitrate and dedicated the fireworks display to the deity in token of their gratitude for rain.

The fireworks displayed here are the Japanese traditional gimmick fireworks. Sulfur, potassium nitrate and paulownia ashes are mixed together and applied onto the patterns drawn on the cedar board, which is 15 m tall and 25 m wide. It takes more than 1 month to make these fireworks. The patterns are selected from the topics of the year.

At 7:00 P.M., when the Japanese drums are powerfully beaten, the people carrying a large torch come into the shrine precinct and set it up on the ground. At the moment the fireworks are lit at 9:00 P.M., the precinct is covered with smoke and blaze. Small fireworks are shot up in rapid succession with explosive sounds, while swirling fireworks beautifully illuminate the precinct. When they are burned down, fantastic picture fireworks come up among vanishing smoke.

Shinoda Fireworks Festival, Sagicho Festival and Hachiman Festival are generically called the Fire Festival at Omi Hachiman Shrine, which is selected as a national Important Intangible Cultural Property.
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知立 山車からくり Chiryu Dashi-karakuri Chiryu Float Karakuri

Jp En

Chiryu Float Karakuri is performed at Chiryu Festival of Chiryu Shrine in Chiryu City, Aichi Prefecture, from May 2 to 3 once every two years. It is designated as a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Chiryu Shrine is a historic shrine founded in 112 and was ranked the second largest shrine in Mikawa province in the Heian period (794-1192). The enshrined deities are Ugaya Fukiaezu no Mikoto and other three deities. The shrine is worshipped by local people as the god to prevent attacks by Mamushi pit-vipers as well as to bring rain and safe delivery.

Karakuri dolls have been made by the local people in Chiryu with creative ingenuity, and the techniques have been handed down since the Edo Period (1603-1868). They are made by the hands of the town people. The mechanism of the dolls is not sophisticated, and scrub bushes and scrap fabric are used for the material. It is unique and almost unprecedented in the way that dolls alone perform a whole play of Bunraku in response to Jorui chanting. It is said that Chiryu Karakuri is the most elaborate style of the float Karakuri in the country. It is a traditional culture that represents the pride of the people in Chiryu.
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野田雨乞笠おどり Noda-amagoi-kasa-odori Amagoi Kasa-odori Dance in Noda

Jp En

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.
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皆一踊り Minaichi-odori The Minaichi Odori Dance

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The Minaichi Odori dance is a unique folk performing art that has been passed down since the Muromachi period (1336-1573) on Oki-Chiburishima Island in Shimane Prefecture. It is designated as an intangible folk cultural property of Chibu Village.

Minaichi Odori is said to be derived from Kyogen Furyu. The origin is unknown but it was dedicated when people prayed for a rich harvest. Also it was performed with different lyrics when people prayed for bringing rain or stopping wind.

Today it is dedicated to the god at Ichinomiya Shrine on August 15 on the old calendar. Villagers get together in the precinct and dance elegantly in circle to the song and rhythm of Japanese drums, waving folding fans in their hands. The drums in the center of the circle are beaten by local junior high school students.
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鹿島の面浮立 Kashima-no-Menburyuu Men Buryu in Kashima

Jp En

Men Buryu is a traditional mask dance handed down in the southwestern part of Saga Prefecture including Kashima City. Although the styles of dances differ from town to town, they are mostly performed at autumn festivals in each area. It is said that the word “Buryu” derives from “Furyu School,” a school of lion dance handed down since the ancient times.

Men Buryu dance is a kind of ritual performing art that is dedicated to pray for abundant harvest and rainfall. Wearing Furyumen, a mask looking like a demon, over the face, an indigo happi-coat with bold patterns and white momohiki-pants and dangling a small drum from the neck, the dancers dance fiercely to the sounds of Japanese flutes, drums, and gongs.

According to one theory, the dance originates in an old story that during the Warring States period (1493-1573), the lord of this area made his soldiers wear masks of a demon or a Chinese lion and Shaguma (a wig of long horse hair usually made of wool or hemp) on the head when they went to war. Then the soldiers made a night attack on the enemy while beating drums and gongs and gained a victory.

However, another theory states that Furyumen mask was contrived to get rid of the evil spirit that damaged the crops and to pray for rich harvest. To be sure, their brave dances are powerful enough to get rid of the evil spirit.
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根池 Ne-ike Neike Pond

Jp En

Neike Pond located in the deep mountain in the eastern end of Toyota City, Aichi Prefecture, is a pond with an area of about 0.1 hectare. There are a lot of legends about this pond.

It is said that a big white snake, the guardian god of the pond, lives here. It is also said that the pond never dries up no matter how long a drought lasts, nor does it get muddy no matter how much it rains. You will have rain, if you throw a stone into the pond or pray for rain at the side of the pond. You will meet with a misfortune if you catch a fish in the pond and you will have your prayer answered if you release a carp into the pond.

At the entrance to the pond, a red torii gate is erected beside the signboard. Many flags with the name of the guardian god written on them are flapping around this desolate pond, which create a mysterious atmosphere.
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