Kumamoto Prefecture is blessed with groundwater, and the number of hot spring sources is one of the largest in Japan. Why is Kumamoto Prefecture rich in such water (hot springs) called “the country of fire”? Kumamoto Prefecture was in the territory of “Higo Country”, and the influential person was called “Hinokimi”. Therefore, there seems to be a theory that this area is now called “Hinokuni” (Fire Country).
“Hinokuni Matsuri” (Fire Festival) is a summer feature of Kumamoto.
In summer, summer festivals are held throughout the prefecture. The most famous summer festival is “Hinokuni Matsuri”, which is held in the city center.
“Hinokuni Matsuri” is usually held from the first Friday of August to the weekend. In the central city area, the shops are lined up like a fair, and many stores and arcade events are held.
On the first night, summer events such as “Cheers in Unison” at Shimotori Arcade and “Kumamoto Castle Sparklers Light” at Hanabatake Park are filled with outdoor events.
The main event of the festival is “Otemoyan Soodori” (Otemoyan Dance). Approximately 5,000 people dance around the city, along with “Orthodox Tune Otemoyan”, a representative folk song of Kumamoto, and “Samba Otemoyan”, which dances with the samba rhythm. You can also join in, so why not just watch it and have fun together?
Actually, “Otemoyan Soodori” is one tournament. Participants don’t just walk around, but also arrange existing dances and devise costumes to win the “Hinokuni Otemoyan Grand Prize”.
In the past, there were fireworks at the festival. However, it has been banned indefinitely since 2011 because of safety considerations for tourists. After that, many people gathered at Hanabata Park from 19:00 to shine on Kumamoto Castle with sparklers. The scene of sparkling fireworks at the same time is popular from overseas, and tourists will never stop. Why don’t you join us for a romantic sparkler festival?
Simple and easy-to-understand choreography
Speaking of summer in Kumamoto Prefecture, one of the highlights is “Hinokuni Matsuri” (Fire Festival). The first event of “Hinokuni Matsuri” was held in 1978 and it is a festival that has been going on for 40 years since then. It is a big event all the residents of Kumamoto know. It is an all-participation type festival where all people can enjoy it.
It is a summer festival held the first Friday and Saturday of August every year. “Otemoyan” which is a representative dance of this festival is changing every year, and it attracts many people as a modern art which mixed folk songs and pops. Recently, guidance was given in English, and attracted attention also from abroad. It is also an international event that is increasingly powering up.
The most interesting point of “Hinokuni Matsuri” is “Otemoyan Soodori” where everyone dances to Kumamoto folk song “Otemoyan”. It is a simple and easy-to-understand choreography so that tourists who visited Kumamoto as well as Kumamoto citizens can dance, so anyone can enjoy themselves easily. You will be able to taste a sense of unity that is unprecedented, dancing to the rhythm of ecstatic music. How about this memories of the summer?
And people will further heat up with “Samba Otemoyan” which remixed “Otemoyan” dancing to traditional folk songs and made it up tempo. Procession walking around Kumamoto city directs extraordinary daily life. Join into dancing is also possible, so be sure to visit the feeling of energy produced by dancing.
The festivals that young and old can enjoy
Hinokuni Matsuri (Fire Festival) is a citizen participation type summer festival held every year in Kumamoto City. It is a festival with rich local color that anyone can enjoy easily and casually, it is a summer scene of Kumamoto. The main event is “Otemoyan Soodori” (Otemoyan Dance) that about 5,000 people dance in the city center every year, both dancers and spectators are excited together. In addition, in the arcade street boasting the largest scale of West Japan, a variety of events and food and drink booths are opened and festivals that young and old can enjoy.
The dancers wearing a costume dance and walk along the central part in Kumamoto
The Hinokuni Matsuri Festival is held every weekend in the beginning of August. In “Otemoyan Soodori” of Hinokuni Matsuri Festival, dancers wearing a costume in accordance with Kumamoto folk song “Otemoyan” and a light rhythm “Samba Otemoyan” dance and walk along the central part in Kumamoto. By the way, at “Otemoyan Soodori”, it seems that the audience can jump in and dance.
The rhythm of intense Samba and Otemoyan’s music echoes in Kumamoto city
Otemoyan Soodori cancels the partial section of City Tram Line, sets it to pedestrians’ paradise (being kept completely free of cars and trains), and is held. The rhythm of intense Samba and Otemoyan’s music echoes in Kumamoto city.
Kumamoto’s own lyrics by Kumamoto’s folk songs
By the way, Otemoyan song is characteristic of Kumamoto’s own lyrics by Kumamoto’s folk songs. Kumamoto City distributes CD of Otemoyan for free.
You may learn Otemoyan’s lyrics and learn dancing and participate
In Kumamoto City, you seem to be able to take dancing lessons as well. So, in order to enjoy the Hinokuni Matsuri Festival, you may learn Otemoyan’s lyrics and learn dancing and participate.
|Name:||Hinokuni Matsuri (Festival in the Fire Country)|
|Address:||Tetorihoncho 1-1 Kumamoto Chuo-ku, Kumamoto 860-0808 Japan|
|Access:||Kumamoto City Tram Line “Shiyakusho-mae-eki Station” (1 minute walk)|
|Tel:||(+81) 96-328-2948 (Hinokuni Matsuri Management Committee)|