The Katsuyama Sagicho Festival is a festival marking the coming of Spring to Katsuyama in the Okuechizen area of Northeastern Fukui Prefecture. A week before this festival, which has over 300 years of history, locals begin decorating the town in colorful strips of paper known as "tanzaku," bringing a vibrant festive feel to the city. On the day of the festival, 12 large Yagura (tower-like structures) are built in different urban locations of Katsuyama City on which local adults and children of all ages in long red under-kimono garments dance original freestyle to the light rhythm of the festival Ohayashi music including flutes and shamisen. You won't find anything like this type of so-called "strange" celebration anywhere but Katsuyama.
On Sunday night, the "shintai" (a sacred object said to contain the spirit of the local deity), in this case a decoration made of pine, is brought from each neighborhood to the Benten Ryokuchi Park along the Kuzuryu River for the finale known as Dondo-yaki. At 9:00pm, the sacred flame that was first started at the Shinmei Shrine is transferred by torch to the shintai where it is set ablaze. It is at this time that the two-day long festival comes to an end below a glowing winter night sky where locals send off their deity to the sky and pray for a rich grain harvest.
Visitors can witness humorous Ukidaiko drumming to the sound of flutes, shamisen, gongs and the song "Cho yo, Hana yo" all played atop 12 large tower-like structures known as "yagura" that are built in different locations throughout the city. Although the energetic Ohayashi played by adults is quite the sight, you won't want to miss the adorable children Ohayashi. Enjoy a day filled with unique rhythmic sounds echoing throughout Katsuyama.
A very popular part of the Katsuyama Sagicho Festival is the original "Tsukurimono," or crafts, that each neighborhood makes annually. Using everyday objects—things like cleaning items, carpentry and agricultural tools, shoes, you name it—locals improvise on the spot to create pieces of art related to the zodiac sign of that year. Most often one art piece is made up of one type of material. Come check out these simple Tsukurimono full of creativity.
From 9:00pm on the second day of the festival, 14 shintai (sacred objects) are lit at the same time with a sacred flame for the Dondo-yaki ceremony. The Dondo-yaki is a ritual where locals see off their deity as it rises to the heavens from the burning shintai. The 14 sacred objects made from pine and bamboo make for a truly spectacular sight as they light up the night sky. You will not want to miss the impressive Dondo-yaki finale.
Please refrain from taking photographs and video when you are very close to the Yagura or Ohayashi.
Please do not get too close to the Dondo-yaki fire as it can be dangerous. (Please follow instructions of staff members)
Access to Katsuyama City
Katsuyama Station on the Eiheiji Katsuyama Line (Echizen Railway)
Address: Katsuyama City, Fukui Prefecture
5min walk from Katsuyama Station. Walk straight after crossing Katsuyama bridge.