SPRING: The SANNO MATSURI (Hida-Jinja), 14th and 15th in April 山王祭り
AUTUMN: The HACHIMAN MATSURI (Hachiman-Jinja), 9th and 10th in October 八幡祭り
There are 33 shrines in Takayama. Hida people are very pious and like Matsuri (festival). We have two big festivals in a year. They are Takayama Matsuri festivals.
They are very famous as one of the Big Three Floats Festivals of Japan, and also as one
of the Big Three Beautiful Festivals of Japan.
During the spring festival we express our thanks to God (A tutelary) and our delight “Being released from long long winter, we can go forward into new agriculture”.
And on the other hand, in the autumn we hold a festival for our delight “at the plentiful crops of the harvest season”.
You can see many original things of Japan at the both of festivals. For example, the long and beautiful procession with floats, Keitoraku 鶏頭楽 (a team of young men who are wearing feathers on their heads and wearing bird-patterned Kimono, and they play the bells with mallets. Keito means a head of chicken. Origin of Keitouraku is the same age
as the beginning of the nation of Japan. In other words, it is the same age as Amaterasu Omikami天照大御神.
According to Japanese myth, Amaterasu Omikami is the goddess of the sun and the universe, and the ancestor of the Imperial Household of Japan. Amaterasu means “shining in heaven”. Omikami means “an august deity”. She has been deified as the most august deity in Japan. She is the core of the all deities in Japan. Ise-Jingu Grand Shrine 伊勢神宮has enshrined her since the establishment. Not only Ise Jingu but also almost Japanese shrines have enshrined her. You can see Manga-Ise Jingu on that linked website in English, and also can read the article that are described for the Shinto of Japan on that page.
I’d like to introduce two more great shrines of Japan to you.
Izumo Taisha Shrine 出雲大社 is one of the most solemn and majestic shrines in Japan.
This shrine is in Shimane Pref, the western part of Japan and has a very old history and a heroic legend. Izumo Sightseeing Guide
The shrine that is called Atsuta-jingu 熱田神宮 is located in Nagoya that is one of the three big cities in Japan. Kusanaginotsurugi ( a sword) ,one of the three sacred treasures has been enshrined as the object of worship since the establishment.
In the procession, you can also enjoy Shishimai (a dance with a linon’s mask: We have many kinds of Shishimai in Hida. For example, the Kodomo-jishi (a shishimai by children), the Onna-jishi (a dance in a Female lion’s mask), and the Kinzo-jishi (a historical story of
a brave man). Also in the procession, you see Hayashi (a team of men who are playing the old Japanese instruments and performing ancient court music (called Gagaku 雅楽).
And the Keigo (a gurds wearing an old ceremonial dress Kamishimo), and Chigo-gyoretsu (children’s parade) and so on.
At night, the Matsuri gives you the best time! The floats parade through the street with Chochin 提灯 (Japanese lanterns). All the candlelight in Chochin under the eaves of each float is on, and the floats proceed slowly. (These days electronic lamps are used instead
of candles.) This is the best scene of this Takayama Matsuri.
We have 21 floats in all.
In spring, 12 of the floats are shown; in autumn other 11 of them are shown. Some of the floats have their own marionettes on them.
In spring, on the street in front of Jin’ya, and in autumn on the field in front of Sakurayama Hachiman Jinja Shinto shrine 桜山八幡神社, you can enjoy the charming dance of those Marionettes. And also each of the floats has wonderful sculptures carved by Hida-no-takumi. (During Nara era and Heian era, some carpenters that were born in Hida had special skill of art, building and carving; so they were very popular all over Japan.).
These floats are called “Walking Yomei-mon” 陽明門 (That is a beautiful gate built in Edo era in Nikko city.).
FLOATS: We can see them anytime at the TAKAYAMA YATAI KAIKAN. 高山屋台会館
When you get to the top of the stone steps of Sakurayama-Hachiman-Jinja (a Shinto shrine), you will come across the YATAI KAIKAN ( a museum). This style is modern Azekurazukuri (looking like the Shosoin style in Nara city near Kyoto).
Usually Yatai (floats) are well preserved in the Yatai-gura ( high and white old-fashioned Japanese house that you can find here and there in this city.).
Town people see those floats only on the days of the Takayama Festival (14th and 15th of April, and 9th and 10th of October every year.). however, you can see 4 of them and enjoy
at anytime in this YATAIKAIKAN. This was built to have you enjoy the floats of the autumn Takayama Festival, and to keep them in good condition for preservation.
Four floats are always displayed there,, and they are changed in March, in July and
in November every year. This Sakurayama-Hachiman-jinja is a shrine prestigious most famous in the region. And the Shinto shrines around this Sakurayama shrine and itself have 11 floats and 1 Mikoshi (a small but heavy shrine). On the autumn Festival those 11 floats are lined up in the open space in front of Sakurayama shrine and on the street near there