Kakunodate Matsuri no Yamagyouji


Senboku City, Akita Pref.

Over 100 Years Caution ! All Day See Tohoku

About the festival

【UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage】The Kakunodate Matsuri started in the 1600's. A rare festival of Japan, it is co-held by both shrine and temple. Four meter tall floats called "Hikiyama", the key roles of this festival, are elaborately decorated and topped with figures of Samurai. These 18 Hikiyama floats are each pulled using ropes by dozens of local men who give prayers to "Kami" (divine spirits in Shintoism) and "Hotoke" (the spirit of Buddha) while parading throughout the town. The cheerful festival music plays accordingly and the local women wrap themselves in kimonos to dance, on end, the traditional festival dance. The climax is when the Hikiyama fight over who has the right of way. This is called "Yama Buttsuke" (pronounced `Yama Boots-K`), or "Float Crashing". The site of dozens of men wrestling with massive floats amongst an ocean of confusion has not changed for over 400 years.

092 Reh Kakunodate Matsuri

Things to do

1. Watch the Yama Buttsuke!

092 Re1 1 Kakunodate Matsuri

The highlight of Kakunodate Matsuri is the Yama Buttsuke (Clash of the Floats). Local men argue and fight over the right to proceed, but eventually fail to come to an agreement. The ensuing fight using the Hikiyama is the main part of this festival, a popular event overflowing with bravery and passion. The traditional paper lanterns, or "chochin", cast light on the Hikiyama throughout the night which start to take on the resemblance of the divine swaying souls.

2. Lend your ears to the melody of the Kazariyama Hayashi!

092 Re2 1 Kakunodate Matsuri

The Hikiyama are built as ways to honor and pray to both Shinto and Buddhist spirits, as well as a form of entertainment for the local feudal lords (of ancient times). Amongst these floats are ones called Kazariyama Hayashi, which play festive music non-stop. The musicians climb aboard the float and each play their traditional instrument. There are many sects to these Hayashi music floats each with their own original melody and folk tradition. Enjoying the differences is another attractive element to this festival.

3. Feel the beauty of silence in the charming dance of the local women.

092 Re3 1 Kakunodate Matsuri

Don't miss the local women, dressed in kimono, dance to the melody of the Kazariyama Hayashi. Watching this synchronized dance is as if watching one person with your eyes crossed. This charming performance provides a well needed silent beauty to this rough and tough festival.

4. Try the living traditions of Birchwood Crafting and Okaribayaki.

092 Re4 1 Kakunodate Matsuri
092 Re4 2 Kakunodate Matsuri

While taking in the ambience of the festival, it is a great idea to enjoy the Kakunodate original crafts and cuisine. The "Kabazaiku" is a traditional art craft using polished wild cherry tree bark. It is most often used in making tea canisters, small boxes and other popular gifts. Okaribayaki is a grilled chicken and seasonal vegetable cuisine topped with a Sansho Miso sauce. Its name "Okariba" means "hunting grounds" and comes from the fact that a past feudal lord grilled this exact meal while hunting once upon a time. It is recommended for those who would really like to get a taste of local tradition.

Information (基本情報)

  • Festival Dates September 7th (Sat) through the 9th (Mon), 2019
    7th: The Yoi (eve) Matsuri of the Shinmei-sha Shrine
    8th: The main festival of Shinmei-sha and the Yoi (eve) Matsuri of the temple Yakushido and offering for the former ruling Satake Hokke clan.
    9th: Main festival of Yakushido
  • Place All regions of Kakunodate, Semboku City
  • General Participation Viewing only. Cannot participate without proper clothing that parishioners of Shinmei-sha and Yakushido wear.
  • International Reception and Info. Foreign language pamphlets available (English, Korean, Traditional and Simplified Chinese).
  • Wi-Fi Free Wi-Fi Cards are being handed out at the tourist information center. (Semboku City Tourist Information Center "Ekimaegura" in front of Kakunodate Station: Tel 0187-54-2700)
  • Restrooms None
  • HP


  • SNS


  • Contact Semboku City Tourist Information Center "Ekimaegura"

Rules & Manners(参加のルール&マナー)

Please do not approach the floats during the climax. (There is a high chance of injuring yourself as the floats weigh 7 tons each.)

Access Map (アクセスと地図)

Access to Semboku City
[Nearest Station]
Kakunodate Station on the JR Akita Shinkansen Line

[Nearest Bus Stop]
Ugo Kotsu Ekimae Bust Stop

Entire town of Kakunodate, Semboku City, Akita Prefecture
Roughly 1min walk from Kakunodate Station to city center.

OH!MATSURi Editing Team