This Festival started in 1989 and is based on the folktale of Fujigoro Kitsune, the story of a fox handed down through generations in the Tochigahara area of Kashiwazaki City.
In front of the Tochigahara Shrine, a giant Aburaage (thin fried tofu) the size of one Tatami mat (approx. 182cm x 91cm) is fried in preparation for the "Kitsune no Chochin Gyoretsu", or The Lantern Procession of the Foxes, a 2.7km candle-lit march through mountain trails to Urushijima.
After enjoying local Yosakoi (a famous Japanese dance, started in Kochi Prefecture, that uses hand percussion instruments known as Naruko and boasts elaborate costume and choreography) performances at the Tochigahara venue, when evening sets in, 80 locals dressed in fox costumes depart carrying the giant aburaage, commencing the lantern procession. Upon arriving at the Urushijima venue, the aburaage is then served to the hungry participants.
The climax of this festival is the Kitsune no Odori, or Fox Dance (a local version of Bon Odori set to a new style of music) is performed at the Urushijima venue by locals after everyone gathers around the bonfire. The atmosphere surrounding these dancing foxes glowing in the fire light, becomes that of a fantasy-like world.
It is said in Japanese folklore that foxes love aburaage (thin fried tofu), and for this festival, a giant aburaage, the size of one whole tatami mat, is cooked.
The freshly fried tofu is offered at the shrine and prayers for a safe festival are made.
Participants dressed as foxes carry it as they march through the mountain trails and then feast upon arriving at Urushijima. Try some yourself!
At the Kitsune no Chochin Gyoretsu, participants walk the 2.7km stretch of mountain trails from Tochigahara to Urushijima dressed in traditional clothing representing foxes.
Just as the catch phrase of this festival suggests, these lanterns that float in the darkness of night, are like will-o'-the-wisps, or "fox fires", like the ones seen by travelers in legends.
With fox costume rental: 1,000 yen (Reservation is needed. Limited to 20 people)
Without costume rental: 100 yen (No need for reservation)
*Please refrain from wearing sandals and other possibly dangerous footwear as the procession is through mountain trails.
Once upon a time, an old fox lived in the Kakinokizaka area of Tochigahara and would at times shape-shift into human form, causing trouble for the villagers. One day a young man named Fujigoro outsmarted the fox and drove him away. The old fox, bitter with the young man, put a spell on his wealthy family and they fell to ruins. This story, known as Fujigoro Kitsune, is the base for this local night festival. The climax is the fantasy-like atmosphere that is created when the Fox Dance is performed by fire-light at the Urushijima venue.
Use of flash photography in the mountain trails is prohibited.
Please do not wear sandals and other loose footwear.
Access to Kashiwazaki City
Matsudai Station, on the Hokuhoku Line
Address: In the vicinity of 1763 Tochigahara AND 343-6 Urushijima, Takayanagi-cho, Kashiwazaki City, Niigata Prefecture
20min Taxi ride from Matsudai Station to the village Jonnobi Mura in Takayanagi-cho.
Please use the shuttle bus from Jonnobi Mura to the festival venue.
Since public transportation is limited, you must take either a taxi or rental car from a nearby station to the parking lot of Jonnobi Mura.
Since neither of the festival venues have a parking lot, you must take the shuttle bus from the Jonnobi Mura.