Lanterns crafted by Toro-shi (Toro lantern craftsmen) are displayed on the 15th from the daytime, and then given as offerings to Omiya Shrine on the night of the 16th. During the other event of Yamaga Toro Dance, women in their yukata outfits with gold paper lanterns on their head elegantly dance to the affectionate melodies of "Yoheho." The Sennin Toro Odori features 1,000 dancers in the performance of this traditional dance.
The festival's origin dates back to ancient times when the local people of Yamaga greeted Emperor Keiko with lit torches when he was stuck in thick mist that covered the entire area surrounding Kikuchi river. Since then, the villagers have made annual offerings of torches to the Emperor's Anzaisho (temporary shrine built to host the traveling Emperor) that became Omiya Shrine. It was later that the locals began offering Washi (Japanese paper) lanterns there.
You cannot miss the elegant sight of women in their yukata outfits with gold paper lanterns on their head, dancing to the relaxed melodies of "Yoheho." The Sennin Toro Dance on the 16th is one of the highlights of the festival. Part one is held from 6:45 pm, and part two from 9. While the earlier part one is popular, we recommend the second performance for its beautiful faint flickering light appearing in deeper darkness.
As the Toro lanterns wrap up their display in each of the town's districts, they are carried as offerings to Omiya Shrine at 10 pm on the 16th with calls of "Haai, Toro." This "Agari-toro" signals the end of the festival.
Souvenirs come in great variety as well. The "Yamaga Toro Monaka" sweets are sold at many stores. Come get your hands on Kumamoto's popular "Kumamon" Toro goods, as well as "Hello Kitty" Yamaga Lantern straps while you are here!
Available in English, simple Chinese and Korean
Use of tripods are prohibited at festival sites
Access to Yamaga City
[nearest station] JR Tamana Station, Kagoshima Main Line
Festival Location From Tamana Station, catch the bus headed for Yamaga bus center From Yamaga bus center to the festival plaza is a 10 min walk
Omiya Shrine Sennin Toro Dance venue (Yamaga elementary school sports field)