Wakayama University

Kishu Festivals

Traditional culture comes with traditional festivals. Wakayama, with a rich history, has numerous festivals enjoyed by people since the ancient times. The dynamic culture creates new festivals as well.

Awashima Shrine's Hina Nagashi (Festival of Sending off Dolls)

A 20-minute bus ride of the Nankai Kada Line from Wakayama City Station takes you to the seaside.

Historic Awashima Shrine is located right at the Cape known for its beautiful sunset. Rows of dolls at the Shrine's front yard may surprise first-time visitors. Since the old days, people in Japan believe that all things in this world have a living life. So rather than simply throwing things away, people often hold a ceremony to serve them as "an offering" to the God. With this custom, people from all over the country send dolls to Awashima Shrine.

Every year, those dolls are loaded on a boat on March 3, the day for the Doll's Festival for Girls, and are sent off into the sea. This is called Hina Nagashi, or Festival of Sending off Dolls. It is believed that those dolls will take away with them all disasters and misfortune that otherwise might have come along for women. The boat is filled with such prayers of all women.

Awashima Shrine's Hina Nagashi Awashima Shrine's Hina Nagashi

Fire Festival of Nachi

If the Festival of Sending off Dolls is to be for women, the Fire Festival of Nachi is for men.

One of the Kumano Sanzan (Three Mountains of Kumano) shrines, Kumano Nachi Shrine is well known for a spirited Fire Festival held every year in July. The blazing fire leaps from the 12 giant torches weighing 50kg each. Carried by men on their shoulders, the torches are transported to the shrine by climbing up the stone stairs and then coming down to reach the majestic waterfall.

Fire Festival of Nachi

Waka Matsuri (Waka Festival)

The first lord of Kishu, Tokugawa, Yorinobu, built the Toshogu Shrine in scenic Wakaura location to honor the memory of his father, Tokugawa, Ieyasu, the Shogun. A special ceremony has been held every year on the anniversary of his passing, and this event has developed into the biggest festival of Wakayama Prefecture as time goes by. Despite some interruptions through scaling down and discontinuation in the past, the festival has been revived today representing Wakayama's tradition, and a spectacular event is organized every May.

The festival events include the grand Mikoshi Oroshi, (carrying a portable shrine down the 108 stone stairs of the Toshogu Shrine), the procession of many people dressed with various costumes such as warrior, or Horo Mawashi (carrying the cloth-covered woven-bamboo board on one's shoulder). Wakayama University's international students participate in this vintage yet lively Waka Matsuri every year through the collaboration with the local community.

Waka Matsuri Waka Matsuri

Kishu Odori "Bundara Bushi" (Kishu Dance "Bundara Rhythm")

During the Edo Period, Kishu's business tycoon Kinokuniya, Bunzaemon contributed greatly to the reconstruction of Edo (today's Tokyo) that was destroyed by a massive fire. At the same time, he also made a fortune by transporting lumber, which was in great demand to rebuild Edo, on his ships even in the middle of storms.

In 1969, celebrating the 80th Anniversary of Wakayama City, Kishu Odori and Bundara Bushi (folk song and dance) were created with inspiration drawn from the powerful Kuroshio Current off the coast of Wakayama. The name "Bundara" comes from the Edo period business man, Bunzaemon.

Today, it became a major event with more than 100,000 people participating every August. International students also enjoy being part of it through the WIN Cord group.

Kishu Odori Bundara Bushi

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