The Date Masamune Festival is held on the second Sunday of September every year in Iwadeyama Town in Osaki City, Miyagi Prefecture. It started in 1964, when the statue of Date Masamune was moved from the Aoba Castle ruins site in Sendai to Iwadeyama Town, where Masamune spent his adolescent years.
On the eve of the festival, the parade of the Yosakoi Dance, the Masamune Drums, lanterns and the gorgeous Mikoshi goes through the town. The highlight of the main festival day on Sunday is the procession of the warriors of the Date clan. With horse soldiers blowing conch shell horns at the head of the procession, the present head of the Iwadeyama Date family making himself up as Date Masamune rides in a dignified manner, which is followed by the palanquin carrying Masamune’s mistress, the members of overseas delegation to Europe led by Hasekura Tsunenaga. It is a magnificent reenactment of the procession of the Date clan, which makes spectators slip into delusion of being transported back to the Warring States period.
When the festival draws near, there are a glut of applicants who yearn to act as a gallant warrior. It is the charming sight of autumn, in which everyone in the town participates and has fun.
Toyoma Fall Festival is held on the 3rd weekend of September every year in Toyoma Town in Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture. It has been handed down for over 300 years, serving as the annual festival of Toyoma Shrine, which houses the guardian god of the town.
On the eve of the festival on Saturday, archery rituals such as the Hikime ritual to drive away evils by shooting arrows and the Oomato (big target) ceremony are dedicated to the god. From 5:00 in the evening, Toyoma Takigi-Noh (Noh by the light of torches), a prefecturally designated folk cultural property, is performed at Mori Butai, the Noh theater and museum.
On the main festival day on Sunday, the parade of about 13 festival floats, warriors, the beautiful women Yosakoi dancers and Chigo (young children in ancient costumes) go through the town to the music of Toyoma-bayashi played by children. The floats are handmade and pulled by the members of sub-town associations. About 13 floats participate in the parade every year. Each float is decorated with a huge paper-mache doll such as a fierce tiger, a bubbling crab, or the characters from “Journey to the West.” Everyone in town enjoys this biggest event of the fall.
The townscape of classic Japan can be seen in the old Shiroi-juku post town in Shiroi, Shibukawa City, Gunma Prefecture. Shiroi-juku was a prosperous post town located at the point where the Agatsuma River pours into the Tone River.
Old residences with earth store houses continue along the Shirai-zeki water channel. Many stone structures including 8 draw wells and the bell tower remind us of the town’s prosperity in the old days.
Being slightly away from National Route 17 and its bypass, the town has a little car traffic and is a good place for walking. The townscape of the good old days will make you feel at peace.
On the 4th Sunday in April every year, a lot of tourists visit this town to enjoy Shiroi-juku Yaezakura (double-blossomed cherry) Festival, in which the warrior parade goes through the town and the local products fair is held.
Toyoma Shrine at the top of Mt. Teraike Dobayama in Toyoma Town, Tome City, Miyagi Prefecture, is a historic shrine that has been worshipped by local people for nearly 1,000 years. The enshrined deities are Emperor Ojin and Takorihime no Mikoto.
It is said that the history of the shrine dates back to 1062, when Minamoto no Yoshiie transferred the deity from Iwashimizu Hachimangu Shrine in Kyoto to Mt. Hemuroyama (later called Hachimanzaki), where his father had offered a prayer for his victory before he fought with the forces of the Abe clan, which is known as “Zen Kunen no Eki” or Earlier Nine Years’ War (1051-1062).
Later during the Warring States period, the Kasai clan ruled this area and they faithfully revered the shrine as the guardian god of their family and the seven counties in their territory. In 1590, when the Kasai clan was destroyed, Date Munenao, who was enfeoffed with this area by Date Masamune and became the founder of the Toyoma Date clan, relocated the shrine from Hachimanzaki to the foot of Mt. Teraike Dobayama. Date Muranaga, the 6th lord of Toyoma, built a new shrine building at the top of the mountain and revered as the guardian god of his family. In 1846, it was renamed Toyoma Shrine.
In the precinct is the stone monument inscribed with a poem written by Matsuo Basho erected in 1770. In September every year, an annual festival is held, in which the gorgeous procession of mikoshi, floats and warriors is performed.
Aizu Autumn Festival, held for 3 days from the 22nd to the 24th of September every year, is the largest festival in Aizuwakamatsu City. It features a number of events that attract visitors from all over the neighboring areas. The festival begins with the fantastic parade of 1,000 citizens with lanterns in their hand. The Aizu Bandai-san Bon Dance Festival is also held in town.
The following day begins with the highlight of the festival, the Byakko-gyoretsu, a procession of about 500 people dressed in traditional costumes from different periods in the history of the Aizu domain, which set out from Tsuruga Castle after giving the thanksgiving ceremony for those warriors in the Edo period (1603-1868). Some volunteers represent the successive generations of Aizu daimyos (feudal lords). The procession is completed with the Byakko-tai, a troop of boys under the age of eighteen, who committed ritual suicide out of loyalty to their lord.
Aizu Autumn Festival is the biggest event in the city of Aizu Wakamatsu, in which citizens commemorate the warriors who lost their lives in the Boshin War at the very end of the Tokugawa Shogunate period. It also tells citizens that autumn has come to this historic city.
Tada Shrine located in Kawanishi City, Hyogo Pref. is a nationally designated historic site. This is the motherland of the most powerful branch family of the Minamoto clan, Seiwa Genji, whose founding father is Emperor Seiwa (850-880). The shrine originates in a Tendai Sect temple built in 970 by Minamoto no Mitsunaka, who had lived in this area. Since then the temple had been the mausoleum of successive Minamoto warriors of Seiwa Genji including Yorimitsu, Yorinobu, Yoriyoshi, and Yoshiie. In every April, the grand festival of Genji Matsuri is held, in which the parade of Genji warriors goes through the town. The huge soapberry tree in the precinct is designated as a provincial monument by the prefecture. The tree has a trunk circumference of 4.2 m and is said to be the biggest soapberry tree in the prefecture.
Taimatsu-akashi is held at Kuriyasawa in Sukagawa City, Fukushima Pref. on the second Saturday of November every year. The festival with a history of 400 years is counted as one of Japan’s Three Big Fire Festivals. 150 dashing young men from Sukagawa City carry together a large torch of 10 m in length and 3 tons in weight and parade through the town. The torch parade is followed by a group of boys and girls in samurai armor and the samurai procession of the castellan of Sukagawa Castle and his vassals. The whole town is filled with exciting atmosphere of the festival. At the top of the nearby mountain, while the dashing young men with hachimaki (headband) around their head beat the Taimatsu-daiko drums, as many as 30 torches and the fancy torches set to mock the shape of the castle are fired up one after another. The whole mountain looks as if it is the sea of fire. Fire and drumbeat make spectators slip into delusion of being transported back to the Warring State period.
Odawara Hojo Godai Matsuri Festival is held in Odawara Castle Ruin Park and its vicinity on May 3rd every year. It is the largest sightseeing event in Odawara City, Kanagawa Pref. The festival reminds us of the glory attained by five generations of Hojo family, the castellans of Odawara Castle; Soun Hojo, the founder of Hojo Family, who ruled over Kanto Region and brought prosperity to the town of Odawara, and his successors, Ujitsuna, Ujiyasu, Ujimasa, and Ujinao. An army of 2,000 samurai warriors consisting of warrior troops, cavalry, and gun troops valiantly march through the main streets around Odawara city, followed by the brass bands and baton twirlers from the city's junior high schools and Odawara Lantern Dance as well as several Mikoshi (portable shrines) carried around by the citizens. It is a magnificent historical event that makes spectators feel as if they were brought back to the Warring State period.