Yosakoi Matsuri is a relatively new festival. It was created by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Kochi Prefecture to cast off economic recession after the Second World War and was started in 1954. It was created with influence from Awa-odori (Awa Dance Festival) in Tokushima Prefecture.
In the festival, Naruko, a percussion instrument used to scare off birds in crop fields, was introduced during the dance performance and became an essential part of the Yosakoi Festival to this day.
In the beginning, the dance followed the Japanese traditional dancing style, but Eisaku Takemae, who was a noted music composer and supervised the festival music, encouraged a variety of arrangements in music and many different musical styles have started to appear. Nowadays, each team devises their own original piece with influences coming from many different genres including samba, rock, hip hop, Japanese Enka, flamenco and Hula dance, which, along with more traditional performances, greatly entertain the audiences.
The word, Yosakoi, is derived from an archaic word of Yosari Koi (Come in the evening).
Imari Tontenton is a festival that takes place at Imari-jinja Shrine in Imari, Saga Prefecture, every year from October 22nd through 24th.
It is a Shinkousai festival with a procession of portable shrines, also known as Imari Kunchi. The festival is one of the Three Great Battle-style Festivals in Japan.
During the festival, several locations in the city are turned into battle grounds, thus turning the whole city of Imari into the festival venue, and the sounds of drums beating can be heard throughout the city.
After the solemn processions of a white and a red portable shrine there follows Aramikoshi portable shrine and Danjiri portable shrine both of which are carried by young local men wearing uniformed happi, or festival coat, and headband. Upon the signal of a drum beat sounding “ton ten ton”, the two portable shrines crash into each other. This battle festival is so fierce and such bravery is exhibited by the participants that it is unique in the nation.
The climax of the event comes when the two shrines continue their battle as they tumble into the nearby river, the victor later merging from the river after more battle
Iimari Tontenton Festival is a valiant and spectacular traditional festival.
Furin is a small hanging bell that rings in the breeze. A tongue dangling in the center of the bell strikes the sides of the bell and creates a pleasant sound. Furin originates in “Sen-futaku,” which was suspended in the bamboo grove and used to tell fortunes in ancient China. It was introduced to Japan with Buddhism and called “Futaku,” whose sound was believed to get rid of evil. During the Kyoho era (1716-1735) of the Edo period, a glass furin was first made and became very popular among townspeople. Today there are many types of furin being made of a variety of materials and taking a variety of shapes, including glass-made Edo furin with lovely pictures, rugged Nanbu iron furin, Hibachi-furin (taking a shape of a traditional Japanese heater), unglazed clay bell, Sumi-furin made of combined pieces of charcoal. The cool sound of furin is one of the things that provide us with a feeling of summer.
Yotsudake is a musical instrument from Okinawa, used when performing the Ryukyu dance Chabirasai. Yotsudake, which means 'sorry' in Okinawan, is an instrument where the musician holds 4 pieces of bamboo in each hand and makes sounds by hitting them together. Bamboo is traditionally the sole material for this instrument, but more recently, musicians hold the bamboos in place on their fingers using rubber bands.
One of the dances in which the yotsudake is used is sometimes called the Yotsudake-odori. Many other beautiful dances by women also incorporate the yotsudake.
As mentioned before, 'yotsudake' in Okinawan means 'gomenkudasai' ('sorry'). The elegant dancing and lively sounds of the yotsudake, nicely exemplify the atmosphere and mood of Okinawa. Recently, the yotsudake has been used even in Kyoto, in a new dance called Kyoen-Sodefure, and is a good example of the Ryukyu culture spreading out into the mainland of Japan.
Japan is probably ahead of many other countries in the variety of spinning tops in terms of the shape and structure. There are many ways of spinning and competing that have been handed down from the old times. You can spin a top by pinching the stem with your thumb and fingers and twirl it, by twirling with your palms, by winding a string around the top and throwing it to unwind the string, or by lifting up a top with thread wound around the stem and hitting the top against the floor. Which way to choose depends on the type of tops. You can also play games with tops in several ways including the game in which the strength of the top is contested by hitting the tops against each other, the one in which the elapsed time of the rotation is competed, or the competition in which the spinning skills are contested. If you play with a top by yourself, you can enjoy the changes of the shape or patterns of a top in rotation, or the sound made by the mechanism inside a top. In Japan there are also many kinds of acrobatic top performances such as spinning a top on a parasol or tightrope spinning.