Lantern Festival is held in the area around Maizuru Park in Takanabe Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, on around October 15 every year under the theme “To foster the moral principal,” which was the motto of “Meirindo,” the official school of the Takanabe domain established by the 3rd lord of the domain, Akizuki Nobutane, in the late 17th century.
About 1,500 stone and bamboo lanterns place in the main festival site as well as in many places in the town are lit at the same time, which fantastically illuminate this old castle town. Among them are unique paper lanterns made by elementary and junior high school students. Including the volunteers who light lanterns, all the townspeople cooperate with one another to make the festival successful.
On the festival day, various events such as the jazz concert “Horidoko no Utage” and the local product fair are held everywhere in the park.
The Takanabe Kagura dance has been handed down in the towns of Takanabe, Kijo, Kawaminami and Shintomi in Miyazaki Prefecture. It is designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the prefecture. The origin of the dance is not clear, but it is presumed from the stone monument and old shrine documents that it was already danced in the Heian period (794-1192). Takanabe Kagura is a simple and elegant form of dances classified as one of the Iwato Kagura dances that have been passed down in the Aso area.
It was originally dedicated to a shrine in every village in the area. In the Edo period (1603-1868), it came to be performed mainly at Hiki Shrine, which is an old and established shrine with a history of several hundreds years and was given protection by the Takanabe domain.
Since the Meiji period (1868-1912), the dedication of the Takanabe Kagura dance has been called “Daishinji (Grand Ritual).” Presently, 33 plays have been handed down and performed at the six shrines in the old domain area, which take the responsibility of the performance by rotation once every six years. At the dedication ritual, the dancers perform 33 dances quietly and elegantly throughout the night.
Genroku Bouze Dance, or Genroku Buddhist Monk Dance, is dedicated to the deity of Itsukushima-jinjya Shrine located in Minashiro Miyanokubi, Shintomi-cho, Yuyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, and is performed annually on August 15th according to the lunar calendar. The dance is designated as an intangible folklore cultural asset by the town.
Genroku Bouze Dance has been passed down since Muromachi Period in four neighboring areas of the town; Miyanokubi, Hiraikura, Yadoko and Oku. During the rule of Takanabe Akizuki Clan, the dance was performed as part of the festival dedicated to the water god mainly at Hiokimizunuma-jinjya Shrine which was associated with the clan.
The dancers consist of more than five groups of three people, a monk, a man and a bride as well as singers, drums and clappers accompanying them.
The dance celebrates a rich harvest, and there is a storytelling element where a man and his bride are dancing together happily, a monk tries to cut in between them and get in the way. It contains the theme of human drama which became popular at the end of Edo Period.
Genroku Bouzu Dance is a folk art that has a long history passed on through the generations.
Koshimizugaike Pond located in Hioki in Shintomi Town, Miyazaki Prefecture, is a pond, which is oblong in north and south and about 1 kilometer in circumference and 7 hectare in area. Having never dried up, the pond is covered with beautiful lotus flowers in summer. From the middle of July to the middle of August every year, white and pink lotus flowers come into bloom and colorfully decorate the surface of the pond.
In winter, lotus roots are harvested in the unique method that has been handed down in this area. It is said that cultivation of lotus roots started by Akizuki Taneshige, the 7th lord of the Takanabe domain, as the measures to save local farmers from food shortage in winter.
Beside the pond is Mizunuma Shrine, which is said to have been founded in the Genroku era (1688-1703). The enshrined deity, Mizuhanome no Kami, is worshipped by the local people as the goddess of agriculture and prevention of bad luck concerning water.
Seta, Ishiyama’s Clear Stream refers to a particular view of the Seta river; Seta river runs through Shiga Prefecture's Otsu city. This is one of the 8 great views of Biwa Lake. The flowing Seta River, lit up by the rays of a setting sun, forms a backdrop for the Kara Bridge, one of the three major Japanese bridges.
Historically, this so-called ‘Seta’s evening sunlight’ has been an especially popular sight among Shiga's famous views. It is famed as one of the Omi Hakkei (Eight Views of Omi) of Ando Hiroshige. Another famous view in the area that appears in many literary works and Ukiyoe paintings is ‘Ishiyama’s Moon in Autumn'.
Even now, an old-fashioned houseboat is popular among sightseers. You can enjoy the unique beauty of all four seasons at Ishiyama temple or along the Seta river; in the Spring, cherry blossoms, during early Summer, azalea, in peak Summer, cool breezes, in Autumn, fall foliage, and in the Winter, a snowy landscape.
The many boats and canoes that now congregate near the Kara Bridge creates scenary very different from the Ukiyoe that Hiroshige painted. However, the scene of boats passing by the bridge in the evening is still quite beautiful, much like a scene straight out of a movie.