Oki Muramatsuri Furyu is held on October 19 every two years in Nakamura on Dogo, the main island of the Oki Islands in Shimane Prefecture. It is one of the three large festivals on the Oki Islands and prefecturally designated as an intangible folk cultural property.
The festival dates back to the early Kamakura period (1192-1333), when Sasaki Sadatsuna was appointed governor of Oki province. He transferred the gods of the sun and the moon from Omi province, his native country, and enshrined the god of the sun at Hachioji Shrine in Motoya and the god of the moon at Jorakuji Temple (later transferred to Ichinomori Shrine) in Nakamura. He, then, performed a festival in hope of a rich harvest by fusing the power of Yin and yang.
On the festival day, the processions carrying the gods leave the two shrines and head for the meeting place, where the ritual to unite the gods of the sun and the moon is performed. After that, various performances such as the salutation by Gyoji (sumo referee) wearing armors, Onmyo-douchi (the Yin-yang drum performance) by young men wearing makeup, Kozuma (the holy sumo tournament) by children and Urate, the sumo-dance by young men are dedicated one after another. The festival ends with the horseback archery. All are performed in accordance with ancient rituals, which make the spectators slip into delusion of seeing a history picture scroll.
Sorayoi, handed down in Chiran-cho, Minamikyushu City, Kagoshima Prefecture, is a moon festival event to appreciate the moon and the god of land for rich harvest. It is nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.
The origin of the festival and its name is unclear. Some says the name derives from the words “Sore wa yoi,” meaning “That’s good.” Others say it is the corruption of “Sora ga yoi,” meaning “The sky looks nice.”
The festival begins when the moon rises. Two boys go into the straw house called “Warakozun,” which is placed at the center of a rice paddy and start revolving it clockwise, while other boys wearing the loincloth, straw coats and straw hats go counterclockwise, mystically dancing and singing “Sorayoi Sorayoi Sorayoiyoi.” around the Warakozun.
After the dance, the adult team vs. the children team play a tug of war three times. Then, they destroy the Warakozun and make a sumo ring out of the straw and do sumo wrestling.
Sorayoi is a mystic but enjoyable traditional event.
Choyo-no-Shinji and Crow Sumo Wrestling is Shinto rituals performed on September 9 at Kamigamo Shrine, which is famous as the oldest shrine in Kyoto. According to the concept of Yin and Yan, the odd number is the number of Yan (shine). Thus 9 is considered to be the number that Yan reaches to an extreme. As September 9 is the day when the extreme Yan overlaps, it was called Choyo (Double Yan) and was celebrated as the auspicious day since the ancient times. Since September is the blooming season of a chrysanthemum by the lunar calendar, it is also called the Chrysanthemum Festival.
In the old days, people drank chrysanthemum wine and purified themselves with dew on chrysanthemum petals in hope of a long life. Today, people in Kyoto visit Kamigamo Shrine on this day and offer chrysanthemum flowers to the deity and pray for the healthy life.
After the Choyo Shinto rituals are performed‚ a Shinto priest called “Tone” places a bow and arrow and a sword against a cone-shaped hill of sand. He then utters the cry “kaa‚ kaa‚ kaa‚ koo‚ koo‚ koo,” imitating the cawing of crows. After this ritual‚ children, divided into two teams of “Negi-kata (priests)” and “Hori-kata (people who cerebrate),” wrestle each other in matches. The sumo wrestling originates in an ancient Shinto rituals performed in the Heian period (794-1192) and it is designated as an intangible cultural property of Kyoto City. Free chrysanthemum flower sake will be offered that is believed to be effective for healthy longevity.
Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine Festival takes place every October at Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine in Mitai, Takachiho-cho, Nishiusuki-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture.
It is not known when Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine was first worshiped. Initially it didn’t have a built structure and the entire Kushifuru mountain was seen as an object of worship. It was 1694 when the devotion of Nobeoka Clan and the villagers led to the building of the shrine. The deity of the shrine is Amatsuhikohikohononinigi-no-mikoto.
The biggest attraction of the festival is a long parade that consists of over 600 people including portable shrines and brass bands in a procession 2.6 km round trip from Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine to Takachiho-jinjya Shrine through the center of the town.
A Sumo wrestling tournament, which has taken place for over 350 years, occurs in the precincts of the shrine. Also babies compete with their loud cries for good health in “Unari Sumo”. Parades by groups with stick weapons and brass bands and archery tournaments are also held.
Kushifuru-jinjya Shrine Festival is a valiant festival proud of its long tradition.
Karato-yama Shinji Sumo (Shinto Sumo Wrestling at Mt. Karato-yama) is a traditional Shinto event held on September 25 every year at Hakui Shrine in the city of Hakui, Ishikawa Prefecture. It is known as Japan’s oldest sumo tournament and its history dates back to the period of the 11th emperor of Japan, Suinin (reigned 29 BC to 70 AD). It is said that Japan’s first sumo wrestling match was held between Nomi no Sukune and Taima no Kehaya under the order of Emperor Suinin. His son, Prince Iwatsukiwake no Mikoto encouraged sumo wrestling, and there is a legend that young men underwent physical training through sumo wrestling on the mountain Karato-yama.
Because of this, on September 25, the obit of the prince, the sumo wrestling matches have been performed in memory of the prince for over 2,000 years. On this day, many young men who are proud of their physical strength come from all over the Hokuriku region to Karato-yama. The sumo wrestling matches start with the famous judge’s call, “Mizu-nashi (no water), Shio-nashi (no salt), Mattanashi (waiting time is over)!” This is a myth that is still alive in this modern world.
Yamaage Festival held in July every year in Nasu Karasuyama City, Tochigi Prefecture is a dynamic performance of outdoor kabuki, which is nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property. The history of this outdoor kabuki dates back to 1560, when Nasu Suketane, the castellan of Karasuyama Castle enshrined Susanoo no Mikoto at Yakumo Shrine and prayed for the country’s stability and a rich harvest. During the Kanbun era (1661-1672), a dance performance was first dedicated to the deity in addition to the sumo wrestling matches and Kagura Loin Dance. In the Horeki era (1716-1763), kabuki dances began to be performed and later it took the form of the outdoor kabuki plays.
On the day of the festival, about 150 young stagehands quickly build a kabuki stage with “yama (backdrops),” which is made of bamboo and traditional Japanese paper produced in the Nasu area. When musicians start playing the Tokiwazu-bushi shamisen, local kabuki players appear on the stage and play kabuki dramas such as “Masakado,” “Modoribashi,” and “Yoshinoyama.” After the performance, the stagehand staff quickly breaks up the set, carries all necessary parts to the next locale and re-builds the stage for the next performance. The performances are held five to six times a day.
Ebi Jushichiya (the 17th night) Festival has been handed down in Kofu-cho, Hino-gun, Tottori Prefecture. It dates back to about 500 years ago, when the Hachizuka clan, the castellan of Ebi Castle, opened the castle to the public and held a Bon festival, where invited townspeople enjoyed dancing and sumo wrestling regardless of rank and seniority.
The townspeople continued this Bon dance festival even after the Hachizuka clan was defeated by the Hojo clan. They got together in the grass field near the castle on August 17th on the lunar calendar and danced for the souls of the castellan and their ancestors.
Today, the festival is held on August 17th every year. The festival starts with dancing, drum beating and sumo wrestling by the groups of local residents unions, co-workers and children. At around 8:30 at night, dancers wearing yukata and sedge hats of the same design take a lead in Kodaiji Dance and spectators join them. The highlight is the moment when the great bonfire in the shape of kanji “Ju-shichi-ya (十七夜)” is lit on Mt. Kuren on the other side of the Hino River. Ebi Jushichiya Festival is a pompous and gallant festival with a long history.
The Sarugaishi River running through the mid-western part of Iwate Pref. is a river classified as Class A River by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. It is part of the Kitakami River System. The total length is 73 kilometers and the watershed is 952 square kilometers. Springing out of Mt. Yakushi (1645 m) on the border of Tono City and Hanamaki City, Iwate Pref. the branch rivers including the Kogarase River, the Hayase River and the Otomo River join the main stream. Along the river are the folk tale town of Tono, which is famous for “The Legends of Tono,” Lake Tase for outdoor activities and the town of Towa in Hanamaki City, which is famous for “Naki-zumo (crying sumo wrestling).” Then the river finally flows into the Kitakami River near Igirisu Kaigan (English Coast) named by Kenji Miyazawa. The Sarugaishi River is well-known as the fishing place for Japanese trout, Yamame, Ugui and Iwana. The watershed area is part of Hayachine Quasi-National Park, where a variety of alpine plants, large and small waterfalls and beautiful gorges can be viewed.