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Did You Know about the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!

Updated: 5 days ago


Have You Heard of the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!

The Johana Hikiyama Festival and the History of Johana Town


I participated in the Johana Hikiyama Festival and will share about the festival, the history of Johana, and its connection to Kagurazaka.


The Johana Hikiyama Festival is a historic festival held every May 5th in Nanto City, Toyama Prefecture. It is registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. As a traditional cultural event whose style has remained largely unchanged since the Edo period, it captivates local residents and many tourists. One of the festival’s highlights is the evening transformation into a lantern parade, offering a different atmosphere from the daytime. The mikoshi (portable shrine) procession to the festival floats dates back to 1724, making this year 2024 a significant 300-year milestone.


Have You Heard of the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!

The history of Johana Town itself is ancient, with significant settlements known to exist since the Jomon period, serving as a vital living area since ancient times. The town saw significant development as a temple town with the relocation of Zentokuji Temple in 1573. Zentokuji Temple is currently a branch temple of Higashi Honganji in Johana.


The area around Zentokuji was particularly famous for silk fabric production. The silk industry in this region utilized large quantities of cocoons transported from the Gokayama area (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to produce high-quality raw silk. The manufactured silk was primarily transported to the Nishijin district in Kyoto and later to Edo (Tokyo), significantly contributing to the economic development of Johana Town.


Have You Heard of the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!


The Johana Hikiyama Festival is renowned for showcasing traditional festival floats and Iori-uta (a unique type of music) that continue from the Edo period. These floats are adorned with exquisite carvings and vibrant colors crafted by local artisans, captivating all who see them. Iori-uta, influenced by Edo-Hauta (Edo-period songs), features a distinctive musical style from Johana, enhancing the festival atmosphere with its beautiful melodies. Iori-uta is performed inside the intricately crafted "Iori Yatai" floats, which are modeled after establishments like the famous Ichiriki Chaya in Kyoto’s Gion district. The performers parade through the streets, playing shamisen, flutes, and singing.


What is Edo-Hauta?


Edo-Hauta emerged as a popular song genre in the middle of the Edo period and became particularly popular towards the end of the period. To distinguish it from the Kamigata-Hauta (songs popular in the Kyoto and Osaka regions of Japan), it was also referred to as Edo-Hauta. These songs were embraced not just by samurai and townspeople but also by the common folk of Edo, becoming an integral part of daily life. Edo-Hauta blended various musical elements like Jiuta (local ballads), Joruri (narrative music), and popular songs into a style flavored with an Edo touch, characterized by lively, short songs with rhythmic beats.


What is Iori-Uta?


Iori-uta, unique to the Johana Hikiyama Festival, is a musical expression that stems from Edo-Edo-Hauta but features distinct vocal and performance styles. It is performed inside the Iori Yatai floats, with the music and singing contributing to the rich cultural tapestry of the festival.


Have You Heard of the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!


What is Iori-uta Shomo (Requesting Iori-uta)?


Iori-uta Shomo is a traditional practice where special Iori-uta performances are requested at specific homes or locations. By paying a celebratory fee, one can enjoy Iori-uta performed right in front of their home or a designated place. This custom creates a special bond between the performers and the audience, making the festival experience more personal and meaningful.


Did You Know about the Johana Hikiyama Festival? Experience It in Kagurazaka!


Experience the Authentic Johana Hikiyama Festival at the "Kagurazaka Street Stage, Oedo Tour 2024"


Even if you couldn't make it to the Johana Hikiyama Festival, you can still enjoy Iori-uta on May 18th and 19th at the "Kagurazaka Street Stage, Oedo Tour 2024." At this event, performers from Johana will bring the festival atmosphere to the back alleys of Kagurazaka, parading with shamisen, flutes, and singing, just as they do in Johana. This is an excellent opportunity to immerse yourself in the traditional culture of Johana, also known as "Little Kyoto of Ecchu." Come and experience the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of the Johana Hikiyama Festival in Kagurazaka.


Schedule:

May 18 [Sat] Start at Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji at 17:30

May 19 [Sun] Start at Bishamonten Zenkoku-ji at 12:00 and 14:00


Access to Kagurazaka:

Tokyo Metro Tozai Line: Kagurazaka Station or Iidabashi Station

Tokyo Metro Namboku Line: Iidabashi Station

Tokyo Metro Yurakucho Line: Iidabashi Station

Toei Oedo Line: Ushigome Kagurazaka Station or Iidabashi Station

JR Sobu Line: Iidabashi Station


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