Every twenty years at Hotaka Shrine, they completely rebuild the main Hall and hold a grand reinstallation ceremony of the deity into the new shrine. On the 7th and 13th year, they hold a minor reinstallation ceremony. This year, 2016, is the year of a minor ceremony. Furthermore, as an offering, the shrine will also hold a 5 part display of the rare Hotaka Ningyo (dolls).
According to remaining records, the ceremonial year of Sengu has been in existence as far back as 1483, which makes it an over 500 year long running ritual.
As for the decorative display of the Hotaka Ningyo as an offering to the deity, the oldest records date back to 1713. These dolls, with wonderful facial expression, are a utilization of the traditional techniques of the local region that have been handed down and protected over many generations. They are all hand made, one by one.
Held mostly in the northern garden, a fair featuring nearly 100 stands welcomes the shrine festival goers who come from all over the country. Come savor the rare festive event that only happens every seven years!
The main highlight of the Sengu ceremony is the display of the Hotaka Ningyo that have roots dating back to the Edo period. You must see these dolls that seem like they could come to life any moment. Being surrounded in luscious green adds the effect. There are five different strictly selected scenes portrayed regarding Japanese history and folktales, creating a vibrant scene of what one would normally see in a picture scroll. Get a taste of Japanese history with these exquisitely crafted dolls.
During the entire two weeks of the Sengu ceremony, you can view the traditional Bugaku dance performances held on the offering stage from 17:00 to 20:00. Shrine maidens perform the eye catching yet solemn Hotaka No Mai while other performances include the Hotaka Daiko drum show and the local dance, YOSAKOI Azumino. On May 1st and 14th, a Bugaku offering event is held by the Shinano Gagaku (Japanese court music) Society, exciting the festival even more!
Touching the dolls or climbing on stage is prohibited
Access to Azumino City
Hotaka Station (JR Oito Line)
Address: 6079 Hotaka, Azumino City Nagano Prefecture (Hotaka Shrine)
3 min walk from JR Hotaka Station