Takayama Matsuri

Takayama Matsuri

April 14-15 and October 9-10
Held twice a year in Japan, in the spring and the autumn, the Takayama Festival is famous for its elaborately decorated yatai, festival floats. These were first used at Kyoto's Gion Matsuri, and later appeared in other parts of the country. Twelve of these floats appear at the April festival, held at Takayama's HiÉ Shrine, and 11 participate in the October festival at the Sakuragaoka-hachimangu Shrine. They are so highly decorated—with beautiful fabrics, lacquered wood, and patterned metals—that they are often referred to as "Yomeimon in motion," a reference to the famous gate at the Toshogu Shrine in Nikko. Some yatai feature performances of kabuki, puppet plays, often performed by cleverly designed mechanical marionettes.
A highlight of the festival is the parade of metal gongs known as tokeigaku, which produce a unique kind of folk music. There is also a Shishi-mai, or Lion Dance, originally used by Japanese farmers to ward off wild boars and other animals that threatened their crops.
CONTACTS:
Japan National Tourist Organization
1 Rockefeller Pl., Ste. 1250
New York, NY 10020
212-757-5640; fax: 212-307-6754
www.jnto.go.jp
Hida Tourist Information Office
Showa-machi, 1-chome
Takayama, Gifu Prefecture 506-0053 Japan
81-5-7732-5328
www.hida.jp/english/index.htm
SOURCES:
IllFestJapan-1993, p. 38