Chagu-Chagu Umakko

Chagu-Chagu Umakko

June 15
People in Morioka, a horse-breeding district of Iwate Prefecture in Japan, hold the Chagu-Chagu Umakko Festival to honor the god of horses. The parade begins at the Komagata-jinja shrine and ends at the Morioka Hachimangu shrine, a distance of just under 10 miles. Using white ropes, people lead richly decorated horses. When they reach the shrine, the riders make an offering of a picture of a horse, and prayers are said for the horses' well-being and the owners' financial success.
Chagu-chagu refers to the sound of the bells that are hung on the horses' heads. Umakko comes from uma, the word for "horse" in the local dialect. The horses and their riders, mostly young women and children, make a very picturesque sight as they ride along the paths between the rice paddies in summer.
CONTACTS:
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
www.japantravelinfo.com
SOURCES:
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 74
JapanFest-1965, p. 159
WildPlanet-1995, p. 319