There are many festivals all over Japan where you can experience the history by watching traditional events up close and enjoying beautiful costumes. The “Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival” held in Iwate Prefecture in June is one of those festivals that feel such a tradition. It is a festival where many horses wear beautiful and wonderful costumes!
“Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival” is a festival held in Takizawa City and Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture. The appearance of horses marching with the sound of a bell is nostalgic and has become so popular that 20,000 to 40,000 people visit every year.
Chaguchagu Mako is held every second Saturday of June.
The festival “Chagu Chagu Umakko” is a festival to thank horses. In current agriculture, machines are used, but in the past, horses were used. In addition, horses were also used for transportation, and the “horse” was a familiar and important creature.
Nanbu (current Iwate Prefecture) in particular is a farming horse production area called the “Nanbu Horse” that has been valued as well as the family. “Chagu Chagu Umakko” was started in hopes of having no horse sickness.
The sound of “Chagu Chagu Umakko” was selected in 1996 by the Ministry of the Environment as one of the “100 Best Sound Scenes in Japan”. The festival itself was selected as an “Intangible Folk Cultural Property” in 1978 and is carefully protected.
At Chagu Chagu Umakko, horses walk on a course of about 14 km from Onikoshi Sozenjinja Shrine in Takizawa City to Morioka Hachimangu Shrine in Morioka City. The procession of about 100 horses is over 500m, and the roadside is crowded with many people.
One thing to note is that horses are delicate animals that are surprised by loud and flashing sounds. Try to be quiet when looking at the horse and not use the flash when shooting!
Chagu Chagu Umakko is especially interested in clothes worn by horses and people. The horse’s costume is called “Konida Shozoku” and the color of the costume is made to match the fur of the horse.
The woman who leads the horse wears a knitted hat with a decoration on kimono with splashed patterns called “Anekko costume”. Men also appear in matching outfits such as black short coats and riding trousers. Horses and people’s costumes are important elements that convey the festival culture.
If you are heading from Tokyo, take the Tohoku Shinkansen and head for Morioka Station. Since Morioka station is in the procession route, you can visit there.
If you want to go to “Onikoshi Sozenjinja Shrine”, the departure point of procession, use the free shuttle bus from Morioka Station No. 16 bus stop. You will arrive at Onikoshi Sozenjinja Shrine in about 35 minutes.
The first bus departs at 6:40 and the last one at 8:55. Departs every 20 minutes. Please note that buses close to the end of the shuttle bus may not be in time depending on traffic conditions, so go early.
With colorful costumes and huge bells on horses
“Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival” (Horse Festival) is famous all over the country as a scene of the early summer of Michinoku (an old name of Tohoku region). It is a festival with faith “Sozen-sama” (the god of horses) which is held every second Saturday of June every year. In the festival, about 100 horses will march a distance of about 13 kilometers from Onikoshisozen-jinja Shrine in Takizawa City to Hachimangu Shrine in Morioka City. It features gorgeous decoration of horse and lots of bells. It is said that the sound of a bell ringing “Chagu Chagu” every time a horse walks comes from the name of this festival. Horse ornaments are said to originate from “konida Shozoku” (costumes of animals carrying supplies) used for the Daimyo queue. The appearance of a horse hanging in colorful costumes marching is a masterpiece.
Originally it was a festival grateful for horse’s labor. It begins to thank appreciation for labor and pray for disease-free suffering of horses. The festival was held on June 15th before, but recently it was held on the second Saturday in June to have more people participate.
The march of horses is a large scale of 4 hours, with colorful costumes and huge bells on horses, with children and women wearing costumes on board. Although horses are not used now for farming, it is an important festival to horses for locals.
The history of more than 200 years
Iwate was the famous hometown of horse since the time of the Nara period.
Such Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival in Iwate Takizawa City is the traditional event which, appreciate farming horse and pray for state of perfect health, with the history of more than 200 years. 100 horses are dressed up by a colorful costume, together with the owner on the Onikoshisozen-jinja Shrine, and march through about 13-km distance to Morioka Hachimangu Shrine over about 4 hours.
Bells ringing with the lively sound “chagu chagu”
The costumes are handmade of silk and hemp, totaling over 2 million yen.
Since the large and small bells attached to that costume are ringing with the lively sound “chagu chagu”, it came to be called “Chagu Chagu Umakko”.
Horses walking around in a gorgeous colorful costume
“Chagu Chagu Umakko” is the festival of Takizawa City, Iwate Prefecture and Morioka City. It is also elected as “100 selections of soundscape in Japan” by the Ministry of the Environment. The highlight is the horses walking around in a gorgeous colorful costume. The line of 100 horses becomes a length of not less than 500 meters.
Very gorgeous costume
The costume to be put on the horses are called “konida Shozoku”. The costumes include “Neck Armor” “Nose Armor” “Eear Coverings” “Streamer” are very gorgeous. The owner’s feelings to the horse are conveyed.
On the outskirts of the Onikoshisozen-jinja Shrine of the starting point, peaceful pastoral land spreads out against the background of Mt. Iwate-san.
The colorful costumes in the surrounding green, the sound of a bell like “chagu chagu” is comfortable to the ear, and The dry sound of horseshoe “paka paka”. It is the very heart-healing sight.
Information(Access, Price/Charge, Tel, Address, Official site, etc.)
|Name:||Chagu Chagu Umakko Festival (Horse Festival)|
|Address:||Hachimancho 13-1 Morioka, Iwate 020-0872 Japan|
|Access:||Morioka Hachimangu Shrine|
JR Tohoku-honsen Line “Morioka-eki Station” (15 minutes by car)
|Tel:||(+81) 19-656-6534 (Takizawa-shi Tourism Office)|