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.
The Shimonoseki Channel Festival is held annually in March in Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. This festival is associated with the Battle of Dan-no-ura, and many events are held to commemorate it.
The Sentei Festival is one such event worth noting. It features a parade of women dressed in luxurious costume, who visit the Akama Shrine once a year on the anniversary of Emperor Antoku's death. This event was begun by court ladies of the Taira Clan who had survived the Battle of Dan-no-ura. Later, the courtesans of the pleasure quarters took over this event. These historical customs are the origin of today's Jourou Douchu (courtesan's parade).
Other events around Shimonoseki include the exciting Gen-pei Gassen (Genji and Taira Clan Battle), which features a display of over 200 boats on water, with people dressed as warriors. Another event is the Ganryu Island Festival, which reproduces the scene of the Ganryu Island Duel between Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro.
The Ishibe cherry tree is named for Jibudayuu Ishibe, one of the senior statesmen of the Ashina clan, and the feudal lord of the Aizu clan during the medieval era. The cherry tree used to be Ishibe's favorite tree in the private garden of his residence.
Today, Ishibe's residence is no more, but the tree can be seen from far away among rice fields. The tree has eight different trunks branching from a single base trunk, and blossoms faster than the Somei-yoshino cultivar because it is of the Edo-higan variety.
The trees blossom from mid- through late April and the view of the tree in full blossom is truly a sight to see. The Ishibe cherry tree is one of the five great cherry trees in Aizu, which include the Sugi-no-ito cherry, Oshika cherry, Tora-no-o cherry, and Haku-boku cherry, and is said to be around 600 years old. It has been designated a Natural Treasure by the city of Aizu-wakamatsu, and also has been designated a Green Cultural Treasure by the Fukushima Prefecture.
The Hita Gion Festival is held to pray for peace and ward off evil and misfortune, and takes place in Hita, Oita Prefecture.
The Hita Gion Festival is an epic festival held every summer to protect the community from illness and damage from floods and storms, as well to pray for peace. It began as a festival to ward off evil in the Kuma and Mameda region. Soon, genuine, full-scale hikiyama (floats in the shape of samurai helmets, fish, dragons etc.) were built, along with the development and elaboration of the festival, which has continued to develop into its present form.
In 1988, the 10m-high yamaboko (festival float) was revived for the first time in 90 years and was simply mind-blowing. Nine sets of yamaboko go around the city day and night, and compete to be the most luxurious and gorgeous float. Gion musical accompaniment is an imperative and essential part of the rounds of the city, with its unique sounds of the flute, drums and shamisen. The all-star roundup of the 9 yamaboko in front of Hita JR station is impressive and spectacular. In 1996, the festival was designated an important intangible folk cultural asset of Japan.
Umenosato Park is located in Kojiro, Tsuyama, in Okayama Prefecture. Within the 5-hectare site are over 3800 plum trees representing 14 types of plum. The park was created by locals and was opened in 1994.
From mid-February to late-March, the plum trees blossom, covering the whole park in bloom and marking the advent of spring with their scent. There are many different colored blossoms, ranging from red to pale-pink and white.
A 'Ume Festival' also takes place near the park entrance and lots of people come to visit then. In the ume-processing factory, goods such as pickled plum, jam, dried plum and jelly are manufactured, and prove to be popular goods for sale.