This is the Murayama Tokunai Festival, named after the explorer Mogami Tokunai, a Murayama City local from the Edo period. He is famous for exploring the Ezo region (current day Hokkaido). The city he used as a base for his explorations was Hokkaido's Akkeshi City which later became the friendship city of Murayama. In 1994, when the Akkeshi Bayashi, the accompanying band in festivals, was invited to Murayama, the Murayama locals were taken away by the impressive performance, and from the next year on, locals saw the birth of a Tokunai Bayashi. The festival started with only three floats, but has been gaining more and more participants every year, and is well on its way to becoming a Yamagata major regular.
The Murayama Tokunai Bayashi includes soul-stirring dancing by performers with naruko(hand held percussion instruments), led by a nimble melody created by accompanying musicians who hit gongs, play flutes, rattle drums and let out powerful calls.
There is also a "civilian float" known as shimin no dashi where viewers are free to participate. It's a hit every year. You can learn the easy steps from the local dancers and join in the fun.
We recommend comparing all the different and cleverly made costumes, choreography and floats that each participating team puts together. Costumes range from traditional kimonos and jackets called happi to original and unique fashion. Try looking for your favorite out of the whole bunch.
If you have to watch one thing, by far it is the dance performances. A dynamic mixture of dance and martial arts is performed to the up-tempo rhythm of the Hayashi's calls and flutes. The last performance of the last day is especially not to be missed.
Access to Murayama City
JR Murayama Station
Fureai Hiroba, near Murayama Station
Fureai Dori (from the intersection of Motoki Radio Shop to the intersection in front of Murayama Station)
Matsuri Hiroba (from the intersection of Hokushin to the intersection in front of Murayama Station)
Address: Itsukamachi, Tateoka, Murayama City, Yamagata Prefecture