Sakaenokuni festival is held on the 1st Saturday and Sunday in the area around Saga Castle in Saga City, Saga Prefecture. The festival was first held as Star Festival of the local shopping streets in 1962, which was changed its form into Noryo (summer evening) Saga Festival in 1972 and then was assumed the present name in 1990. Changing its names, it has developed into the biggest citizen festival that features a variety of events, which everyone can join and enjoy.
During the two-day festival period, the dancing parade “Yosakoi Saga” is held, in which over 50 dancing teams from both inside and outside the prefecture participate and show off their own styles of Yosakoi dances. At the plaza called “Omatsuri Hiroba,” many shops including outdoor café and street venders’ stalls are bustled with people.
Many events such as Star Festival, the eve events and the fireworks display are held on the first day. The second day starts with the parade of the distinctively designed mikoshi, which followed by various events and culminated with the So-odori dancing parade, in which more than 3,000 citizens participate and enjoy dancing.
Kemari is an ancient football game in the Imperial court in Japan. It is said that kemari came from China during the Yamato period about 1,400 years ago. There are no winners or losers in this game because the objective of the game is simply to pass the ball to fellow players.
In Kagawa Prefecture, Hono Kemari (the kemari offering) is held at Konpira-gu Shrine on May 5th and July 7th (Tanabata Kemari) and in the middle of December (Osame Kemari), among which the ones in May and July are open to the public.
The kemari game is played in a sacred court called “Mari-niwa.” When a team consisting of six shrine priests and shrine maidens wearing colorful costumes called Mari-suikan and Mari-bakama appear in the Mari-niwa court, the High Priest performs a ritual to release a ball from a branch of paper mulberry. Then the players start playing the game, shouting “Ariya!” as they control the ball, and “Ari!” as they pass it on to the next player.
Tanabata Edoro Matsuri is a festival held in Yuzawa City, Akita Pref. in August every year. A lot of decorative strips and paperwork are attached to thick bamboo poles and boxes with pretty ladies painted on them are lit up at night. The festival dates back to the middle of the Edo period (around 1700), when a princess of Takatsukasa family, a court noble in Kyoto, married into Satake Yoshiyasu, the 5th head of the Stake Nanke clan, one of the branch family of the Akita domain lord. Gripped by homesickness, the princess wrote her nostalgic feelings on strips and put them on a bamboo pole. Accordingly the townspeople who heard of the princess’s grief began to display strips and streamers on the bamboo poles and prayed that she might get over the grief. After the Meiji period (1868-1912), the present lantern boxes were began to be displayed on the streets. The boxes are also displayed in the city hall all through the year. A lot of visitors come to enjoy this fantastic summer festival held to the memory of the princess.
Furukawa Taiko is a dynamic drum performance handed down in the Furukawa area in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. A lot of drum performing groups join and play at Furukawa Festival held in early August every year.
This drum performance has its origin in a legend pertaining to Sakanoue Tamuramaro’s expedition to the north land. Furukawa Taiko drumming style is unique in that the six drummers take turns beating one drum. Praying for a rich harvest of the year, the drummers valiantly beat the drum by turns to drive the demons away from their farming land. The stage reaches its climax when their brilliant drum-stick techniques and dynamic rhythm is greeted with thunderous applause from the audience.
During the festival period, about 200 Tanabata-kazari streamers are displayed in the town and the Furukawa Taiko mikoshi parade is held. The colorful Tanabata streamers and roaring sounds of drums put the whole town in a festival mood. Furukawa Festival is the biggest summer event of the city.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is one of Tohoku's four major festivals, which include Aomori Nebuta, Akita Kanto and Amagata Hanagasa festivals.
Sendai Tanabata Festival is not a traditional local festival because it has taken place in various places since the Edo period. It is said that it the festival was beloved by the clan patriarch, Date Masamune.
Following the adoption of the Western calendar in the Meiji period, the festival diminished year by year. But in 1927, volunteer merchants revived it to shake off the economic recession at that time. It is said that children who saw the spectacle, applauded for a long time after it. Sendai Tanabata Festival deteriorated during the war in the early 20th century and did not take its present shape until after 1926.
Nebuta Festival is a kind of Tanabata festival (Star Festival) held at many places in the Tohoku Region, among which the one in Aomori is the most famous. Aomori Nebuta Festival takes place from August 2 to 7 in the city of Aomori. The Nebuta Festival features a parade of huge lanterns in the shape of samurai warriors. The lanterns are made with wooden, bamboo or wire frames and covered with brightly colored papier-mâché and placed on floats that are pulled by people. Around each float are the group of people called haneto accompanied by flute and drum players. It’s a magnificent festival of more than twenty floats parading along the same route in the city. The highlight of the festival is hanetos’ wild dancing. According to one theory concerning its origin, Aomori Nebuta is the modification of Toronagashi (floating lanterns), a part of Tanabata customs and that is why the best three floats are taken to the sea and placed on ships for a cruise. It was in the post-war period that Aomori Nebuta Festival began to be held on a large scale. Now it is managed as a part of the prefecture’s tourism business.
The Hirosaki Neputa, a summer festival held in Hirosaki, Aomori Prefecture, is one of the four major festivals in Hirosaki. The people of Hirosaki parade throughout the city towards the call of "Yahh-Yahh-Do", pulling the parade floats of warrior figures and warrior paintings. Around 70 neputa parade floats, including the ougi-neputa (a fan-shaped neputa) and kumi neputa (a man-shaped neputa), run during the festival.
It is told that neputa beganin the second year of the Bunroku period (1593), when the patriarch Tamenobu Sato held a huge, 2 ken square-sized lantern (approximately 3.62meters square) in the Urabone festival during his stay in Kyoto.
There are a variety of tastes in today’s Hirosaki Neputa, such as Kodomo-Neputa (Children’s Neputa), and Mae-Tourou (lantern with letters on the front side). The dynamic beauty of these floats overwhelms the viewer. The powerful Kagamie is displayed on the front, and the fascinating beauty Miokurie appears on the back.
The Hirosaki Neputa wasdesignated an important intangible folk-cultural property of the country in 1980 (Showa 55).