【UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage】On the 4th Saturday of every July, The Yamaage Festival is held from the prior Friday to the following Sunday. Feast your eyes on a gorgeous outdoor theater performance that has been inducted as a significant intangible folk cultural asset. The six neighborhoods of Nasukarasuyama City take turns each year with the heavy task of putting together the stage in the streets. The special hand made back drop for the stage is created from local Karasuyama washi (traditional hand made paper). It depicts Mt. Harika, in front of which dance and Kabuki performances including Tokiwazu shamisen (string instruments of the Joururi style) are conducted by city locals.
This festival is said to have started in 1560 when the lord of Karasuyama Castle enshrined Gozutenno (another name for Susano-o, a most significant deity in the creation on the Japanese archipelago) in Yagumo Shrine in hopes of warding off an epidemic disease that was spreading
Locals compete in song and chant in a performance known as Bunnuki. During the evening of the 3rd day (Sunday), in front of the arch entrance of Yagumo Shrine, local youth gather to take part in the spectacle. You don’t want to miss this heated performance of whistles, drums and local spirit.
One of the fulfilling eye sights of this festival is the actual setting up of Mt. Harika and the other components needed for the Kabuki stage backdrops. Covering a width of roughly 100 meters, the stage including mountains, buildings, bridges and waves are propped up before onlookers’ very eyes in perfect balance with each other. Watching the teamwork and unison of the diligent local youth in action is another scene you don’t want to miss.
In the morning hours of the second day, you can see the Mikoshi of Yagumo Shrine carried through the city during a reenactment of Togyo (a parade for the transferring of enshrined spirits). It is said that if the Karasu-Tengu (the local interpretation of Tengu, a mischievous deity) rubs you with his long sword during this ceremony, you will spend the following year in good health.
Viewable only in Japanese
Please do not touch the stage sets.
Please do not do anything that will interrupt the performances, or the construction of sets.
Viewing the Mikoshi (the portable shrine) from above (from second floors, etc.) is prohibited by local tradition.
Please refrain from taking pictures and videos of the Mikoshi once it has entered the grounds of Yagumo Shrine.
There is a possibility, due to seasonal weather, that wind gusts may cause stage sets to topple, in which case please keep a safe distance from tall or seemingly unstable objects.
Please keep in mind that there may be some traffic regulations in areas that are unmarked in pamphlets.
In case of bad weather, performance relocations and even cancelations may occur.
Since temperatures can rise during the summer afternoons, please take proper precautions towards overheating and dehydration.
JR Karasuyama Station
Yagumo Shrine and the surrounding city streets of old city Karasuyama, Nasukarasuyama City, Tochigi Prefecture.
1-16-1 Chuou, Nasukarasuyama City, Tochigi Prefecture.