The Ere-kotcha Miyazaki festival started in 2002 and is a revival of the Miyazaki Furusato festival that was first held in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Miyazaki City. It is a new type of festival, blending traditional Bon dancing with modern-style dancing.
The festival is held on the last two days of July. There are two main events. One is the 'citizen's dance', a large-scale dance with 10,000 people dancing to local folk music. The other event is the dance contest, Ere-kochya Miyazaki, held in downtown Miyazaki. This contest involves various groups and teams of dancers, and performers from all over Kyushu, who express the hot summer through their bodies.
'Ere-kotcha' means 'a great matter' in the dialect of Miyazaki. And indeed, the festival is filled with great excitement.
Other attractions of this festival include the 'Taiko-mai', a performance by taiko drum groups from around the prefecture, and the 'Kitchen Garden', where the rich ingredients of Miyazaki can be met. These various events and performances wonderfully represent the spirit of the festival.
Kutami Festival is held in Shinmei at the Shirahige Shrine. The festival takes place in spring when the cherry trees are in full blossom and there is a freshness in the air. The festival features six gorgeous floats that parade through the town to lively music.
The highlight of the festival is the 'thread-separating trick', which has been designated as a National Intangible Folklore Cultural Asset and a Prefectural Important Folklore Cultural Asset. The 'trick' is a kind of marionette performance. Threads are not directly linked to the 'trick', which is enacted using an original technique that differs to usual puppetry. The performance is highly valued in terms of both history and art.
This unique marionette performance changes its theme every year and may center around, for example, a folk tale, recent news, popular animation or sports. Each year presents something new and refreshing.
Aki Shrine is an old shrine in Uda, Nara Prefecture. It was established when Jinmu-Tosei took place, which is the movement of the Jinmu Emperor traveling east.
The Jinmu Emperor established the shrine to worship Amaterasu. Therefore, Amaterasu is the principle image. The main building is made in the same style as Ise shrine, and the barage board penetrates the roof. Also, the 'katsuogi' is aligned on the ridge.
Within the shrine grounds, there is a stage for Noh performances, which were first performed here from the early Edo period. The performances stopped in the Taisho period, but were revived in 1992. Now, the performances are known as Akino Hotaru Noh and are performed in June.
In front of the shrine, Kagirohi Hill spreads out. The hill appears in a poem by Kakinomoto no Hitomaro. In winter, the scenery is marvellous.
Onogaku is a type of traditional performing art from Ono in Maetsuemachi, Hita, in Oita Prefecture.
Onogaku is said to have begun as a dedication or offering following a drought in 1331. It is also believed to have been performed to celebrate the birth of Hachimandai-Bosatsu (Buddhist god of protection, also known as Emperor Ojin). The exact origins, however, are still unknown.
It is believed that at first, Onogaku was performed as a dedication after drought, a period of rain or an epidemic, but its main purpose is said to be as a prayer for rain. In modern times, however, it is performed as a dedication to Uji-gami (the protective deity of a region) and Oimatsu-tenman-sha in order to wish for a good harvest of the five grains, as a cleansing of plagues and misfortune, and to celebrate the new emperor and his success to the throne. It is also designated as an intangible folk-cultural asset of Oita.
No certain date is fixed to hold Onogaku, but it is usually performed toward the end of October. More than 100 people parade and dance in Onogaku, creating an epic atmosphere that is absolutely gorgeous.
The Children’s Kagura is a traditional dance from Nima, in Ota, Shimane Prefecture that dates back to the Edo period.
Nima is a community dependent partly on agriculture and partly on fishing, and faces the Japan Sea. Only about 280 families live here.
It is said that, beginning in 1751, the Omoto Kagura dance became a children’s dance.
From January 1st to 3rd each year, children perform the Kagura dance at night. Elementary and junior high-school students from Takuno enact the story of Susanoo-no-mikoto’s dragon hunting and his encounter with Princess Inada Before the adults, the children play the roles of dragons, immortals, demons and foxes.
In 1964 (Showa 39), the Children’s Kagura was designated an intangible cultural asset of Nima. In 1969 (Showa 44), this Kagura was peformed before the crown prince and princess (the present emperor and empress) of Japan.
Children’s Kagura was performed in the United States as a part of a cultural exchange program.
The Kagura dance by the children of Takuno has been passed down for many generations and will continue to do so.
Sada Shrine is located by the Sada River, near Matsue in Shimane Prefecture. It is both an historical and an influential shrine, second only to Izumo-Taisha, and was built in 1684.
The main shrine is built in the Taisha style, with halls in three rows. In the main shrine, twelve gods are enshrined. In the main shrine is the Saiehiogi, one of the oldest existing paintings on a fan screen. The shrine possesses a number of designated national cultural assets, such as the Sada Jin-noh, a drama form that influenced the Satokagura drama throughout the country.
The Sada Jin-noh is played during the famous Gozakae and Reisai festivals on the 24th and 25th of September, respectively.
In addition, in November during the Jinzai festival (held to expel bad luck, including fire and flood), it is said that a multitude of gods gather here at Sada Shrine. This is why Sada Shrine is also known as the ‘Jinzai shrine’.