Yakutanabata Festival (Start Festival) is held in early August in Noshiro City, a city facing the Sea of Japan in the northern part of Akita Prefecture. Yakutanabata Festival is a kind of the Nebuta lantern festival, which originates in an old episode that Abe no Hirafu (about 1,300 years ago) and Sakanoue Tamuramaro (800 years ago) used lanterns as decoys to attract attention of the enemy when they fought against the Emishi (the aboriginal inhabitants of ancient northern Japan). It is also said that the custom of lantern float was carried out to shake off drowsiness in the midsummer as well as to pray for a good harvest in coming fall and drive away the ill luck.
In Yakutanabata Festival, a castle-shaped giant lantern float are pulled around the city. Leading the parade are the Dengaku musicians, who powefully beat drums and produce peaceful tone of Japanese flute. At the end of the festival, shachi or dolphin-like ornaments attached to the top of the lantern are burned and set afloat to the Yoneshiro River.
In the evening when the ohayashi music stops and street lamps along the river are turned off, the area is dominated by silence. Then the shachi ornaments placed on rafts in the river are set on fire. In the solemn music played by the ohayashi musicians, they are floated away into the Sea of Japan.
Takidani Fudo Myo-o Temple belongs to the Shingon Shuchizan school of Buddhism, and is located in Tondabayashi, Osaka.
Takidani Fudo Myo-o Temple is counted as one of three large Fudos in Japan. Praying at the temple is reputed to help prevent or cure eye diseases. As a result, the temple is also known as 'Eye of God' and 'Fudo of Sprout'.
The priest Kukai established the temple in 821. In 1463, it was moved to its present place. The temple's principal image is of Acala. The statues to Kongara and Seitaka are said to have been created by Kukai himself. These images are all designated as important cultural assets.
Monthly on the 28th day, a festival is held at Takidani Fudo Myo-o Temple to which over 30,000 people gather.
Ooiwasan Nisekiji Temple is famous for its holy water called 'fujimizu' (fuji water), which is believed to cure ailments of the eyes. The temple is in Nakanigawa-gun, Toyama Prefecture.
The 'Etchu-kujiki' records relate a legend from 1702 about a blind farmer who lived in Echigo. One day, he received a divine message from Fudo-Myoo (Vidyaraja, one of Buddhism's Five Kings of the four cardinal directions) telling him to wash his eyes under a 'fuji' tree near a waterfall in Nisekiji Temple. The farmer heeded Fudo-Myoo's words and, immediately after washing his eyes, was able to open them and see again.
To this day at the temple, the spring water that wells out around the statue of Fudo-Myoo (an important cultural property of Japan), has been known as Fujimizu, and is believed to miraculously cure eye diseases.
Also within this temple is the megusuri-no-ki ('eyewash tree'), said to cure presbyopia. Dried megusuri-no-ki for decocting in tea is sold here and has proved popular with visitors.
The Japanese koi carp is native to central Asia and claimed by the Chinese to be the representative of all fish species.
According to the legend of the 'Touryuumon (Climbing Dragon Gate)', of all fish, only the koi was able to swim up the Yellow River to the 'Ryumon (Dragon Gate)', where it would receive divine powers and transform into a dragon. Due to this legend, the koi has always been treated as a joyous fish for celebrations. The decoration of houses with colorful carp banners during the Boys' Festival in May is also due to this legend.
Notes on the breeding of koi as an ornamental fish have been found in the 'Nihon Shoki (Chronicles of Japan)'. They reveal that koi have been raised as ornamental fish throughout the ages.
In addition, koi are vigorous fish and are highly nutritious, best eaten by women who are recovering from childbirth or having trouble producing breast milk, and also by people who have heart or respiratory diseases.
Formerly, koi were said to be of a higher rank than sea-bream and fundamentally necessary for celebratory feasts, but due to the saying that the pelvic fins of the koi have powers to stop childbirth, the fish was deemed taboo for marriages.
There have been theories that Japanese koi were once imported from China, but wild koi have been found in Lake Biwa, proving they are also native to Japan.