Bamba Dance is a folk dance performed every August during the Matsuri-Nobeoka (Nobeoka Festival) in Nobeoka, Miyazaki Prefecture.
Matsuri-Nobeoka is the largest summer festival in northern Miyazaki. In the Bamba-Sou-Odori (Whole Bamba Dance), more than 5,000 townspeople dance in a huge circle. The festivities also include a display of some 10,000 fireworks. This festival lasts for two exciting days.
The Bamba Dance is accompanied by narrative songs known as Kudokiuta, which feature long lyrics. The Bamba Dance seems to be a derivation of Bon festival dances held in each region of Nobeoka.
The lyrics of the songs for the Bamba Dance include many phrases from Kabuki and Joruri, which were very popular in the late Edo period. Therefore, the Bamba Dance is considered to have been popular in the late Edo period.
Indeed, the Bamba Dance has been enjoyed by people for a very long time.
Kazuwa Ware is a representative porcelain of Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture, and is designated as the folk craftwork of the prefecture. It is said that Kazuwa Ware first began to be made around 1750 (Houreki era).
Kurayoshi clay is rich in iron, and turns black on firing. The typical glaze for Kazuwa Ware has a distinctive deep reddish color. Therefore, the base color of the pottery is black with a red overlay. Fired Kazuwa Ware takes on a dark red, and is used as dishes or vases: the delicate color exudes a warmth to its users.
Recently, vessels with new and fresh designs have begun to appear. One such color other than red is a cool breezy color that is used for dishes: it is a white-base with blue and green. Another color that is now available is a rich purple with original glaze colors over it.
Kazuwa Ware features a unique ceramic style: like a glass locking the sky and the earth inside it.
Hakota dolls are traditional papier-mache dolls with a history of 300 years. They are made in Kurayoshi, Tottori Prefecture. Such a limbless cylindrical type of papier-mache doll, similar to a kokeshi doll, is rare in this country, and it is made only in Kurayoshi in the Sannin area.
Hakota doll-making started sometime between 1781 and 1789 (Tenmei period). A peddlar from Bingo (today's Hiroshima Prefecture), whose name was Bingoya Jihei, created the first Hakota doll. He made it because he was moved by the naivety of the girls he met in this area.
Until the early Showa period, these dolls were called 'Ha-ko-san', and were a familiar toy for little girls. Also, these dolls were made as bringers of good luck; a prayer for a child to grow up free from injury and illness.
You can make and decorate your own Hakota doll at Bingoya (the 6th), which continues to this day. What will your 'Ha-ko-san' look like?
There is a custom in Japan in which people purchase or receive a hamaya (evil-repelling arrow) on a visit to a shrine for the first time (hatsumode) in the new year (oshogatsu). The arrow is a good luck charm for good fortune in the coming year. Sometimes the arrow comes in a set with a hamayayumi (evil-repelling bow).
The origins of the hamaya come from a ritual called 'jarai', a customary ceremony that took place at new year in the imperial courts to exhibit people's abilities with bow and arrow. The target used during this ritual was called 'hama', hence the names 'hamaya' ('the arrow that hits the target') and 'hamayumi' ('bow used for the target').
Originally, jarai only took place in imperial courts, but during the mid-Heian period, the word 'hama' ('ha' means 'destroy' and 'ma' means 'evil') changed its meaning. The ritual then became a custom at new year in which common people gave a toy bow and arrow to any family with a male child.
Other customs that developed include setting up a hamaya on a ridge in the direction of the 'demon gate' when building a new house, and sending hamaya and hamayumi to relatives and friends on the 'hatsu sekku' (first annual festival) of a newborn baby.
Quail toy cars known as uzura-guruma are a charactersitic wooden toy made in Fukushima Prefecture.
A quail is a small bird that stands about 20cm tall, has a small head, a round body and a short tail. The black and white speckled pattern on its brown body is its characteristic feature.
A Korean who had immigrated to Iwashiro county in Fukushima Prefecture, founded a temple to commemorate a 100th anniversary. At that time, he developed the quail toy car from spare chunks of wood from a hand axe.
Quail toy cars are also made in Miyazaki Prefecture, Kyushu, and the origin is quite similar; they are also said to have been made by a person from Korea.
Car toys such as these are popular in western Japan in places like Miyazaki, but are rarely seen in eastern Japan. Fukushima has so many kinds of toys as you can see from the fact that it has the quail toy car, although it is in the Tohoku region.
Dating to the Edo period, the quail toy car is a simple toy that has a great sense of fun.
The Kanko Odori dance is performed during the Bon festival, at Ise, in Mie prefecture and surrounding areas. It is also known as the Shaguma Odori dance.
The Kanko Odori is basically a folk dance in which the dancers move and bang 'kanko' drums hanging from their chests. Their large and gorgeous headgear and decorations carried on their shoulders are the characteristic costumes of this elegant performance. 10 to 15 people form a circle in this Bon festival dance, which is carried out to commemorate ancestors.
There are two types of dance: one features the decorative headgear called 'shaguma'; the other features bamboo hats decorated with flowers and is an elegant dance. Shaguma is made from glued horsehair and is worn with a set of grass skirts, creating a beautiful and fascinating atmosphere.
The dancers in the Kanko Odori perform in parade, wearing white clothing, carrying the drums and banging them sometimes dancing energetically. The dance is very spectacular and dynamic.
Kurokawa Noh drama is a traditional form of folk theater that is performed in Tsuruoka district (or in the Kushibiki Ooaza Kurokawa area), Yamagata Prefecture. It is designated as an important intangible cultural asset.
This Noh drama has been performed for 500 years as a dedication to Kasuga Shrine, the tutelary shrine of Kurokawa. The main difference between this Noh drama and other forms of Noh is that it was not a sophisticated drama performed for people of the samurai class.
In fact, Kurokawa Noh was traditionally a drama form beloved and enacted by farmers. There are further differences to other Noh, such as the separation of seats. At present, Kurokawa Noh is performed by about 160 actors, and has 230 masks, 400 typical Noh costumes, as well as 540 repertoires and Kyogen numbers.
Undoubtedly, Kurokawa Noh is a traditional folk performance on a huge scale. Annually, it is performed 6 times at the shrine and over 10 times outside, in response to demand.
Miharu papier-mache craft is believed to have originated when Akita Morisue, the 4th lord of the Akita Clan based at Miharu castle, invited a doll-maker from Edo to introduce the art and culture of Edo and Kyoto to his locality.
There is uniqueness and beauty in this simple craft. Between 1688 and 1703, one samurai in the Miharu clan is said to have retired and begun crafting dolls using traditional Japanese paper and a technique known as 'tsutsumi'--a papier-mache doll-making skill from Sendai prefecture. This skill gradually became more refined and today it is practised in Takashiba Dekoya, in the Abuyama mountain district.
Papier-mache models of Tengu, Ebisu, Ooguro, Otafuku, Daruma and Mai-ningyo are made from wet Japanese washi paper, then dried and painted. The figures are engaging and colorful, and embody good fortune, as well as carry a natural earthiness.