Held annually on July 6th (eve festival) and 7th (main festival) at the Haguro Shrine, the Murakami-taisai is an intangible folk cultural asset and is one of the three major festivals of Niigata Prefecture. Three portable shrines (mikoshi), are used to transport the shrine's deity during the Otabi Shinji (journey ritual), a festive procession led by drums that weaves its way through the city streets. The highlight of this festival is when 19 giant floats called "Oshagiri" come together to parade through the central city area. These gorgeous Oshagiri boast amazing carvings and are covered in traditional lacquer and coated in gold and silver. Some of the Oshagiri were first created over 200 years ago and emit magnificent beauty.
As for the festival's history, it is said to have began on June 7th, 1633 (according to the old lunar calendar) when the locals loaded drums onto luggage carts and paraded around town to celebrate the welcoming of the deity that was relocated to the newly built Haguro Shrine in Murakami City during the Osengu (new ceremonial installation of a deity).
At 8:00am on July 7th, the 19 floats that gather at the Haguro shrine representing each of the communities depart simultaneously, accompanied by the music of the Ohayashi. Some of these massive Oshagiri reach over 5m in height, with some having wheels that reach up to 1.7m. Featuring details carvings and traditionally made regional lacquer, they are quite the sight to see. You will not want to them as they gather in one place and parade through the streets of town swaying back and forth and left and right to the festive music.
At 6:30pm, July 7th, the Oshagiri are dressed with paper lanterns (chochin) and parade through the night town, lanterns aglow, in preparation for the finale that starts at 10:00pm. The sight of these floats lighting up the night makes the perfect touch of festival charm. Both townsfolk and visitors alike, come together to awe at the spectacle, not wanting it to come to an end.
Over 300 open-air stalls line the vicinity of the Murakami City Hall from July 6th to the 8th. There are a variety of shops and an endless palette of flavors to enjoy.
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Access to Murakami City
JR Murakami Station on JR Uetsu Honsen main line
Senami Haguro Shrine
Address: 6-16, Haguro, Murakami City, Niigata Prefecture
A 5min drive, 20min walk from Murakami Station
A 3min drive from the off ramp at Murakami Senami Onsen Interchange. Parking Available.
*Please note that the festival parades through many sections of the city, so the location of the main excitement will steadily vary."