TAKAYAMA AUTUMN FESTIVAL
Sakurayama Hachiman (Shrine) sponsors the Takayama Autumn Festival in October, a festival that features
large floats (at night) covered in lanterns. At festival time, up to 1 million people visit the shrine.
No wonder I had trouble booking a hotel 2 months before the festival!
We only visited during the day, as I had no prior knowledge of the lantern tour at night.
Quite by accident we found our stay at Takayama matching the Autumn Festival. At first I was dismayed because
I found available hotel accommodation scarce and expensive, but the festival is quite unique and we ended up
in an equally unique hotel (albeit 40 minutes out of town by Niho bus).
Our hotel, the Takayama 'WanWan' Dog Paradise Hotel, was indeed a hotel for dog lovers!
Something I had not expected inspite of the name, I thought it was one of those peculiar translations...
More on this remarkable hotel at the bottom of my Takayama account here!
The Takayama Matsuri
(Festival) is regarded as one of the 3 most beautiful festivals in Japan (along with
in Saitama Prefecture and the Gion Matsuri
The focus of the festival is the magnificent floats which are pulled through the streets of the town.
The Takayama Matsuri
is actually composed of 2 festivals: the Spring Festival (April 14th and 15th), in which 12 floats take part, and the Autumn Festival (October 9th and 10th), which features 11 floats.
I did not know the floats would also move after sunset, illuminated by Chinese lanterns; must be an enchanting setting
to witness. If there is a next time I'll try to book earlier and find accommodation in town.
The Takayama Festival began about 350 years ago, as a simple village ceremony.
Since Takayama is in Hida, the center of Japan’s timber producing region, the town grew as an important distribution center for the area, attracting large numbers of sake brewers, cloth merchants, woodworkers and
As the result of these rich merchants’ support, and the pride in the high quality work of the artisans, the floats became more and more magnificent, also as a result of competition developed among the various districts of the town.
These wooden dolls wearing silk and brocade are manipulated with strings and push rods from within the float by
expert puppeteers. Manipulations by strings of multiple puppets require the skills of upto 9 puppet masters!
The doll becomes almost lifelike as it performs a series of complex gestures, turns, and other movements.
A tribute to Elliott Erwitt (b. 1928), Magnum photographer, also known for his photos of dogs
SAKURAYAMA HACHIMAN SHRINE
is the oldest shrine in Takayama. The town claims the shrine dates to the 4th century. However it's further claimed that it was founded by Emperor Nintoku who is considered a legendary figure. Japan's history is foggy before the Japanese started recording a written history in the 7th century.
The origins of Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine date from the time of the Emperor Nintoku (413 - 439), when he
requested Prince Takefurukuma-no-mikoto to subjugate the monster Ryoumen Sukuna, an incredible beast with 2 heads,
4 arms and 4 legs... Before undertaking his task, the warrior enshrined his father, the Emperor Ojin, as the deity of this sanctuary and prayed for the success of his mission. In 1683, through the benefaction of Lord Kanamori, the shrine
was enlarged and officially established for the protection of the town.
More than 1.500.000 people vist the shrine annually!
HIDA TAKAYAMA TOWN MUSEUM
Relaxed museum of local cultural history, with exhibits, a reading room & a modest garden.
The Takayama Autumn Festival is the annual festival of Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine
The historic houses district
"... the only existing building of its kind in Japan".
We shuffled around on our socks again, the shoes in a plastic carrier bag. The tatami mats felt comfortable.
I have read the size of rooms described
by the number of tatami mats; must be some standard size to them.
for tax collection, one sack contains about 60 kg of unpollished rice'
Roofing material; the 'no smoking' sign I can understand, but
'no graffiti' may be a little harder to understand?