A traditional Japanese festival with Mt. Fuji glowing in the light of a madder red sunset in the background!

The Japanese have traditionally appreciated and respected nature itself and their own ancestors. Japanese festivals are held to express gratitude for these nature and ancestors for bringing them healthy lives.Among 600,000 festivals held annually, 50% are shrine ritual and culture-related traditional activities, and the remaining 50% are event-type celebrations. The greater number and variety of Japanese festivals are virtually unparalleled anywhere in the world.

Priests purify the shrine grounds before festivals
Priests purify the shrine grounds before festivals
Urayasu no Mai dance performed by Maidens
Urayasu no Mai dance performed by Maidens

”Fujinomiya Festival” has the purpose of bestowing peace on Mt. Fuji as well as showing appreciation for the autumn harvest

A girl joyfully striking a gong
A girl joyfully striking a gong

As the head shrine of about 1,300 Sengen-jinjya shrines which worship Mt. Fuji as the deity, Fujisan Hongu Sengen-taisha shrine was established having the purpose of tranquilizing Asama no Ohkami, the sacred body of Mt. Fuji when the volcano erupted 1,200 years ago. With its 250 years of history, “Fujinomiya Festival” has been taken place for workers in farming, forestry and paper industry benefited from the mountain’s snowmelt to show their appreciation for the autumn harvest as well as for bestowing peace on Mt. Fuji. Each of the twenty districts in Fujinomiya City in Shizuoka Prefecture arranges its own floats and stalls, and performs resounding musical accompaniments with drums, flutes and gongs.

Floats competing with each other by playing resounding “Fujinomiya Bayashi” festival music

Floats parading through town
Floats parading through town
It is extremely difficult to change the course of a three to four ton float
It is extremely difficult to change the course of a three to four ton float

A flock of parading floats and their musical accompaniment with Mt. Fuji glowing in the light of a madder red sunset in the background, reflect the landscape of Edo Period. From young performers of “Fujinomiya Bayashi” festival music with their eyes wide open and their bodies arched over, to the driving technique of moving floats on the verge of collision, the festival offers breathtakingly impressive experience.

Floats competing with each other by playing resounding “Fujinomiya Bayashi” festival music
Floats competing with each other by playing resounding “Fujinomiya Bayashi” festival music

In “Fujinomiya Bayashi” festival music, the team which successfully gets the opponent’s tune out of pace by its resounding music is awarded as the winner, while the judgement is entirely at the discretion of each performer. In Japanese festivals, it is considered that the louder the music, the more it pleases the deity and more spiritual power is given. “Fujinomiya Festival” is built on the wish and affection of every single citizen in Fujinomiya City.

Written by: Hideo Nigata

Date: November 3rd – 5th

Venue: Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture

Access: 10-minute walk from Fujinomiya Station, JR Minobu Line