“Bon Festival of Nishimonai” held in Ugo-machi, Akita Prefecture, is a summer festival that boasts a history and tradition that is one of the three major Bon festival dances in Japan. It is held every year from August 16th to 18th. Although it is a small town with a population of about 20,000 people, about 100,000 tourists visit in three days.
In addition to the beauty of Amigasa (a straw hat worn to conceal one’s face) and the costumes, there are many interesting things such as the hazy Ohayashi (Japanese orchestra) and the deceased dance. It is no less inferior to the famous “Owara Kazenobon“.
“Bon Festival of Nishimonai” is one of the “three major Bon festival dances in Japan” along with Gujo-Odori in Gifu Prefecture and Awa-Odori in Tokushima Prefecture. It is a summer festival that boasts more than 700 years of history and tradition from the Kamakura era‘s dance of praying for good works. It takes place in the center of Ugo-machi, located southwest of Yokote City and west of Yuzawa City.
The festival takes place every day from 19 to 23 o’clock. The dance starts at around 19:30, and the first 30 minutes will be attended by children in yukata. They dance in a long and thin ring around multiple bonfires installed in the street. There are Hayashi-kata (people who play hayashi, or the musical accompaniment) who perform at the Bon festival dance hall, so it is recommended to watch in this area.
And when the children are gone, the “Bon Festival of Nishimonai” will begin. The woman who wears Amigasa deeply starts “Ondo” which is the center. A song called Jiguchi is also sung on Ohayashi. The unique kimono is called “Hanui-Isho” (sewing the edge of a piece of cloth), and the old ones are from the Edo period to the ancestors. The traditional costumes with colorful patchworks make the Bon festival dance even more glamorous.
The biggest feature of “Bon Festival of Nishimonai” is Hikosa-Zukin. Amigasa is worn by adult women, while Hikosa-Zukin is worn by minor women and men. The costume is not a “Hanui-Isho” but a tie-dyed yukata. Originally, Bon dance has meaning to dance with the spirits of ancestors, but Hikosan-Zukin is considered to be an embodiment of it and is called “the dead dance”.
Traveler from the different world
“Bon Festival of Nishimonai” which is counted in the three major Bon Festival in Japan. It is an event of Ugomachi in Akita prefecture, a woman who is deeply wearing Amigasa (a straw hat worn to conceal one’s face) and whose face can not be seen wears different costumes for each person, and is elegant and magical Show off the dance. This is an important intangible cultural heritage of a country which Akita is proud of. A dancer who dances around the city illuminated by fires seems to be the traveler from the different world.
Represent the deceased
The dancer is wearing Amigasa and Hikosa-Zukin (hood) etc, so you can not see its face. And what the dancer with Amigasa is wearing is called “Hanui-Isho” (sewing the edge of a piece of cloth). This costume is made by combining a number of large and small silk cloths in the past, it seems that there is no one of the same design. The dancers wearing Hikosa-Zukin are often minors, and they are wearing the “indigo hand-clapping” costume. They represent the deceased.
Fantastic atmosphere as if you had gotten into a different world
Wearing this fascinating and beautiful outfit, dancing is “Ondo” (dance song) and “Ganke”. Ondo is a quiet and graceful dance which performs a gesture and footwork fluently and elegantly with wild musical accompaniment. With the whistle tone and elegant dance, it creates a fantastic atmosphere as if you had gotten into a different world. And “Ganke” is the soul dance.
Local dancers have a fairly benign condition in their fingers
Of course, the viewer can participate in this Bon Festival dance, but there are points to distinguish local dancers from those who are not. It seems that it is the hand of the fingers. Local dancers have a fairly benign condition in their fingers, which will be occasionally dancing from a young age.
Please visit to see this dazzling dance
Bon Odori is also said to be performed as a part of “Chinkon no Gi” (a ritual ceremony for the repose of a soul) in the first place. The Bon Festival of Nishimonai is said to have a strong tendency as you can see from dancing with the face hidden. Please visit, if you would like to come to see this dazzling dance.
Information(Access, Price/Charge, Tel, Address, Official site, etc.)
|Name:||Bon Festival of Nishimonai|
|Address:||Nishimonai Ogachigun Ugomachi, Akita 012-1131 Japan|
|Access:||JR Ouu-honsen Line “Yuzawa-eki Station” (18 minutes by car)|
|Tel:||(+81) 183-62-2111 (Ugomachi Town Office)|