Yamaga Lantern Festival


Yamaga Lantern Festival

***** Location: Yamaga, Kumamoto
***** Season: Early Autumn
***** Category: Observance


Yamaga Tooroo Matsuri 山鹿灯籠まつり
August 15 and 16

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This festival dates back to an ancient legend. The emperor and his followers were walking in deep fog and the villagers, carrying pine torches, helped them to find their way to safety.

Now during the night about 1000 ladies in summer yukata dance around a center stage, all wearing shining lanterns of gold and silver on their head, this is the "festival held throughout the night". They have a special song, the Yoheho-bushi, which makes it possible to do very slow elegant movements.
The men in ancient costumes line up the street with pine torches, like the ancinet folk, welcoming the emperor.

The festival is now held at the shrine Omiya Jinja 大宮神社 , as an offering to the deities at midnight of August 15.

On August 15, there is a great firework display along the river Kikuchigawa 菊池川, with about 4000 bangs of colorful fireworks.

The lanterns are made of gold and silver paper, pasted together with natural glue only. There are few craftsmen in the town who can make these special lanterns, which must be extremely light to bear on the head for a long time.
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A group of specially trained women dancers form the center of the dance circle. These unmarried girls practise twice a week throughout the year, and train how to move their hands most elegantly.


The town of Yamaga is located along the old road of Buzen, Buzen Kaido 豊前街道 in Kumamoto prefecture.
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The town of Yamaga is also famous for the Kabuki theater YachioZa,where Tamasaburo Bando 坂東玉三郎  performs regularly since many years.

Sanga-yachiyoza 山鹿八千代座 Yachiyo-za Theater

Yachiyo-za Theater in Yamaga City, Kumamoto Pref.
is a designated Important Cultural Property.

This playhouse has the features typical of a Kabuki theater in the Edo period such as box seats and the revolving stage. It has a history of 80 years but various performances are still played on the stage now.

In 1910, several wealthy merchants and businessmen in Yamaga City founded the Yachiyo-za Union to establish the theater and bought the stocks at the price of 30 yen per share. The first performance was played in January the next year, in which the greatest actors and actresses of the time such as Matsui Sumako, Okada Yoshiko, Hasegawa Kazuo, and Kataoka Chiezo played enthusiastically.

In the Yumekogura (museum) opposite the theater, precious documents and materials preserved at this theater are displayed, among them are the costumes that Bando Tamasaburo wore on the stage and the stage properties used then, leaflets of the plays, and the old cinema projection.

The theater was renovated as it was in 1923, when the theater was at its peak. Visitors can take a guided tour and see around the theater including the backstage mechanism of the revolving stage.
source : nippon-kichi.jp

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

The other two great fire festivals of summer in Kumamoto:
Hi-no-Kuni Matsuri, or the Land of Fire Festival
(mid-August), in Kumamoto City

Kikusui-machi Kofun Matsuri,
the Kikusui-machi Burial Mounds Festival
first weekend in August, in Kikusui-machi, Tamana-gun


after the dance -
a sip of lemonade
in style

Nakayama Ishino

Lemonade bottles with the lanterns as decoration.

Related words

. Fudo Rock at Yamaga Town 不動岩 Fudoo Iwa

Yamaga choochin 山鹿灯籠 Yamaga lanterns
. Folk Craft from Kumamoto .

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Gabi Greve said...

Yamaga Nichirin-Ji
1607 Sugi, Yamaga City Kumamoto Prefecture (Nichirin-ji Park)

Nichirinji Temple preserves numerous historic relics such as the Buddhist pagoda/”Gorinto” (or ”five-ring tower”) for Ryoshinsokakuni, the daughter of Kikuchi Takekoku, as well as a monument which contains hairs of Forty-seven Ronin - Oishi Yoshio and 17 others from this samurai clan (their honorable acts of loyalty and sacrifice are still strongly honored throughout Japan today).

Not only is this temple known for retaining historically significant tokens, but also is known for the park with a small mountain growing azalea flowers in the spring time; hence the nickname ”Nichirinji Tsutsuji (Azalea) Park”. During the season between the end of March to the middle of May, the view of the hill on which some 35,000 azaleas and 200 cherry blossoms captures the eyes of the visitors with the absolute beauty. The entire park will be lit up with Japanese paper lanterns till 9pm at night during this season.
With a statue of a laied-back Buddha O-Binzuri sama


Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...