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Festivals and Events Calendar

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Oki Kagura

Kagura, is a form of Shinto dance. The dances are performed with mask and are predominantly practiced around Shimane Prefecture, with the theatrical Iwami Kagura being the most well-known. In contrast, Oki Kagura is old-fashioned and rustic. It was formerly practiced exclusively by professionals called sha-ke who gained the right to perform through family lineage. Today the tradition is preserved by local people. In Oki, Kagura is performed as an offering to Shinto Shrines, but also to pray for good harvests, good catch, for rain, to drive off disease, for marine safety and so on. For this reason, miko, or Shrine priestesses, play an important role. Oki Kagura is generally divided into two groups, Dozen Kagura and Dogo Kagura, which tell different stories and have different styles. Dozen Kagura is fast and energetic, and the performance takes place in the center of four tatami-mat-sized stage or upon a boat. On the other hand, Dogo Kagura is divided into two main styles, Suki and Ochi, and the performance takes place to slow traditional music and upon a very small stage.

Dozen Kagura

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Dozen Kagura Photo: Dozen Kagura Nakanoshima, Nishinoshima and Chiburijima Islands.
Performed during the festivals on each island.

In Dozen Kagura, 1) Divine possession performed by miko shrine maidens has been preserved. 2) The original style of Izumo Kagura has been retained. 3) Shinto rituals take place alongside the dances.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture (Kagura of Nakanoshima and Nishinoshima Islands)

Dogo Kagura

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Togo Imazu Kagura Photo: Togo Imazu Kagura Every March
Sasaki-ke Traditional Residence

Former Suki Area Kagura. Originally practiced in the Imazu and Togo areas, now practiced together. Togo Kagura preserves the Kagura of the former Suki Region.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Naguji Kagura No Photo 13 July (Odd years)
Naguji shrine (Goka Area)

Former Ochi Area Kagura. This style was practiced in the Naguji Area. It disappeared but was later revived in 1980 by local people.

Dogo Kumi Kagura Photo: Dogo Kumi Kagura 25 July (Even years)
26 July (Odd years)
Ise-no-mikoto shrine (Goka Area)

Former Ochi Area Kagura. Practiced in the Kumi Area, at the annual festival of Ise-no-mikoto Shrine. After the shrine rituals, kagura is performed all night long.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Nishimura Kagura Photo: Nishimura Kagura 14 August
Nishimura Shrine (Nishimura Village, Nakamura Area)

Former Ochi Area Kagura. This kagura is performed throughout the night.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Shiro Kagura Photo: Shiro Kagura 17 October (Odd years)
Kitadani Shrine (Shiro Village, Goka Area)

Former Ochi Area Kagura which decends from Kumi Kagura.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Okinoshima Town
(Dogo)

The Three Grand Festivals of Dogo Island (Okinoshima Town)

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Mizuwakasu Shrine Sairei Furyu Photo: Mizuwakasu Shrine Sairei Furyu 3 May (Even Years)
Mizuwakasu Shrine (Goka Area)

During this festival, a ritual to pray for good health, called Yama-hiki-shinji, is carried out. During this ritual, a giant float decorated with a crane and a tortoise (symbols of longevity) and which resembles the mythical Chinese mountain of eternal youth, Mt. Penglai, is pushed around the shrine grounds by boys up to the age of 7 from the area. Kagura (Shinto Dances), Shishi-mai (Lion Dance) and Yabusame (Horse-back Archery) each of which have an old-fashioned style, also take place.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Tamawakasu-mikoto Shrine Gorei Furyu Photo: Tamawakasu-mikoto Shrine Gorei Furyu 5 June
Tamawakasu Shrine (Saigo Area)

Perhaps the most well-known festival in Dogo Island, during which the impressive Uma-ire-shinji ritual takes place. During this ritual, holy horses carrying gods from different areas around the island run through the shrine grounds. The shrine ritual is to pray for a good harvest. Other rituals that take place include a rice-planting ritual, and horseback archery.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Oki-mura-matsuri Furyu Photo: Oki-mura-matsuri Furyu 19 October (Odd Years)
Former Nakamura Elementary School Grounds (Nakamura Area)

The Sun God (represented by a Three-legged Crow) and the Moon God (represented by a White Rabbit) are carried from their shrines to the festival grounds in a procession lead by 4 meter-long poles bearing their symbols. They circle the festival grounds to symbolize the cosmic forces. Kami-sumo dance, Miko-mai dance, horseback racing and horseback archery also take place.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Ushitsuki (Bull Sumo)

Oki Ushitsuki (Bull Sumo) is a cultural tradition of the Oki Islands thought to date back 800 years, making it the oldest traditional Bull Sumo in Japan. It is said to have commenced in order to entertain Emperor Gotoba, who was exiled to Nakanoshima Island in 1221 after the Genko Rebellion. The Emperor is said to have been pleased by the sight of two small cows fighting in a field. The tradition later spread to Dogo Island, where it is still practiced today. There are two kinds of Bull Sumo events, hon-basho which are serious tournaments wherein only the bulls in the higher divisions fight to the end of the match (ie: when one bull turns away from the fight). A losing bull does not fight a tournament match ever again. On the other hand, kanko-ushitsuki are displays for organised for tourists. The bulls do not fight a full match. A unique feature of Oki Bull Sumo is that the bulls' keeper remains in the ring with their bull for the entire match.

Name Photo Date and Location Note
New Year's Bull Sumo Tournament Photo: New Year's Bull Sumo Tournament Second Sunday of January
Oki Momo Dome (Saigo Area)

Tourist Bull Sumo Match.

Summer Bull Sumo Tournament
(Tradition of Former Saigo Town)
Photo: Summer Bull Sumo Tournament 15 August
Oki Momo Dome (Saigo Area)

Hon-basho Tournament.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Hassaku Bull Sumo Tournament
(Tradition of Dangyo Shrine Festival)
Photo: Hassaku Bull Sumo Tournament 1 September
Sayama Bull Sumo Ring (Goka Area)

Hon-basho Tournament. This event takes place as a ritual offering of the Dangyo Shrine & Hassaku Shrine Festival. It is the oldest of all the tournaments in Dogo Island. In the days before the tournament, the bull owners go to drink from the water of the Dangyo Shrine, which is known as "winning water". They also give this water to their bulls to drink.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Ichiyagadake Bull Sumo Tournament
(Tradition of Former Goka Village)
Photo: Ichiyagadake Bull Sumo Tournament 13 October
Ichiyagadake Bull Sumo Ring (Goka Area)

Hon-basho Tournament. One of the largest Bull Sumo Tournaments alongside the Hassaku Tournament. It takes place as a ritual offering of the Ichiyagadake Shrine.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Autumn Bull Sumo Tournament No Photo Second Sunday of November (subject to change)
Kaminishi Shrine (Saigo Area)

Tourist Bull Sumo Match.

Other Festival

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Imazu-no-Tondo New Year's Bon Fire Photo: Imazu-no-Tondo New Year's Bon Fire 15 January
Imazu Bay (Saigo Area, Imazu)

This unique festival takes place in order to burn the New Year's decorations and to entrust one's health up the holy flames. During the festival, four sacred bamboo stalks are piled with decorations and placed along the coast to be burned. When the burning bamboo stalks topple into the sea, local men jump into the cold water and scramble to retrieve them for good luck.

Yamada-kyaku Matsuri-furyu Photo: Yamada-kyaku Matsuri-furyu Early February
Yamada Shrine (Goka Area, Yamada)

During this festival, archers shoot arrows at targets with pictures of a crow and a mouse. This was formerly a prayer for the spring harvest and a thanksgiving festival for the autumn, however today it only takes place once a year. Millet is one of the offerings given at this festival.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Kamo-no Momote-matsuri Photo: Kamo-no Momote-matsuri 11 March
Kamonabi Shrine (Saigo Area)

Three boys (1st grade elementary school students) of the shrine area are chosen to drive off evil spirits from the area by shooting arrows.

Ongyaku Shrine Sairei-furyu Photo: Ongyaku Shrine Sairei-furyu 21 March (Even Years)
Ongyaku Shrine (Saigo Area, Harada)

During this ancient festival, archers shoot arrows at targets with pictures of a crow and a mouse to pray for a good harvest.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Hanaike Shrine Sairei-furyu (Tsudo Momote Festival) Photo: Hanaike Shrine Sairei-furyu (Tsudo Momote Festival) 28 March
Hanaike Shrine (Tsuma Area, Tsudo)

Two boys chosen from the village shoot arrows to expel evil spirits from the area.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Fuse-no-Yama-matsuri Photo: Fuse-no-Yama-matsuri First Sunday of April (Even Years)
Oyama Shrine (Fuse Area)

On the day before the festival, participants go into the forest to cut down a long vine, and walk with a 4m long sacred sakaki branch around the village to purify it. On the next day, they begin purification ceremonies at Kasuga Shrine, and then walk with the vine to a sacred tree shrine in the forest. There they wrap the vine around the tree seven and a half times. This festival takes place at the beginning of Spring, to pray for safe work in the forest throughout the season.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Shimane Prefecture.

Iguri-dako Kite Flying Festival Photo: Iguri-dako Kite Flying Festival Second Sunday of April
Sports Arena

Names of the children born in the previous year are written on these traditional kites and flown to pray for their health and prosperity. The kites have a unique design, with 10 rounded "ears". When the kites fly, they make a loud booming noise in the wind.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Oki Kokubunji Temple Renge-e-mai Photo: Oki Kokubunji Temple Renge-e-mai 21 April
Oki Kokubunji Temple

These Buddhist dances preserve the style of ancient court dances performed in the Nara Period (710 - 794). There are seven dances which are performed on an elevated wooden stage. The masks worn by the dancers are believed to have South East Asian roots. The event takes place on the anniversary of the death of Kobo-Daishi, a famous Japanese monk.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.

Shakunage Rhododendron Festival Photo: Shakunage Rhododendron Festival Early May
Murakami-ke Residence Garden

This garden located within the grounds of Murakami-ke Residence features 10,000 Oki Rhododendron flowers. When in bloom the whole hillside turns pink. During the flower festival, there is an open-air tea ceremony, stalls, and folk song performances.

Shigesa-odori Parade Photo: Shigesa-odori Parade Second Saturday of May
Saigo Port Area

Signifying the beginning of the tourist season, this parade takes place along the main street by the Saigo Port. It features around 1,500 participants who dance to the Shigesa-bushi, one of the most iconic folk songs of the Oki Islands. The dance is performed with two small plates or other objects.

Oki Shigesa-bushi National Convention Photo: Oki Shigesa-bushi National Convention Second Saturday of May
Oki-tou Culture Center, Big Hall

The Oki Shigesa-bushi National Convention takes place the following day of the Shigesa-odori Parade. Singers and folk song fans gather from all over Japan to celebrate and preserve the Shigesa-bushi folk song. Every year, over 100 folk singers attend and compete for the title of best shamisen player or singer.

Totte Oki Three Day Walk Photo: Totte Oki Three Day Walk Late May
All Oki Islands

Walk around all four Oki Islands over three days! The annual Three Day Walk will take place in Nakanoshima Island and Chiburijima Island on 30 May, Nishinoshima Island on 31 May and Dogo Island on 1 June. There is also a pre-walk party in Nakanoshima Island on 29 May.

Okinoshima Ultra Marathon Photo: Okinoshima Ultra Marathon Third Sunday of June
Dogo Island

This intense Ultra Marathon features a full 100km marathon course around the perimeter of Dogo Island, as well as a 50km half marathon. Runners can enjoy the beautiful nature of the island and the enthusiastic support of the volunteers and local people who come out in large numbers to support them throughout the marathon.

Misaki Shrine Uya Danjiri-mai-furyu Photo: Misaki Shrine Uya Danjiri-mai-furyu 28 July (Every three years)
Misaki shrine (Saigo Area, Higashi)

Four young boys hop aboard a decorative portable shrine called a "Danjiri", and play the Taiko drum while the men carrying the shrine sing. The way they move the shrine is like a dance in itself, and a unique feature of this festival.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Okinoshima Town.

Okinoshima Town Natsu-matsuri Summer Festival Photo: Okinoshima Town Natsu-matsuri Summer Festival Early August
Saigo Port Area

During this festival, groups from different areas around the island open stalls and perform on stage. Performances include folk songs, taiko, and more.

Seaside "Kaze" Marathon Photo: Seaside "Kaze" Marathon October
Island Park Area (Tsuma Area)

This fun local marathon takes place around the west coast of the island.

Ama Town
(Nakanoshima)

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Uzuka-mikoto Shrine Ago-ishi Shinji Photo: Uzuka-mikoto Shrine Ago-ishi Shinji New Year's Day
Uzuka-mikoto Shrine

This festival takes place to pray for good harvest and fishing. Large oblong stones that are likened to flying fish are placed in front of the main shrine building. Then, the fish stones offered in previous years are thrown into the sea one by one while shouting "large catch, large catch, large catch". This is a ceremony unlike any other in
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Ama Town.

Ebisu-matsuri Photo: Ebisu-matsuri Ebisu Festival Photo: Ebisu-matsuri Saki-no-tanjiri-mai Around 10 January
Hishiura Area (Shinko-sai Festival on Leap Years)
Saki Area(Saki-no-tanjiri-mai in Autumn of Leap Years)

Small Ebisu Shrines, dedicated to Ebisu, the god of fishermen and luck, are found by the port in all regions. During the Shinko-sai Festival which is celebrated on leap years in the Hishiura Area, these small shrines, or hokora, are carried around in a procession to other regions. A lion dance, a white demon playing taiko, men with ornate hair who clap their hands in time to the beat, as well as other masked and costumed characters, including a cat and squid, are also part of the procession. Afterwards, the portable shrines are placed on a boat and circle the bay three times before being returned to their original locations. In the Saki Area the Saki-no-tanjiri-mai Dance takes place.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Ama Town (Saki-no-tanjiri-mai Dance).

Kojin-san Photo: Kojin-san 27-28 January

A giant straw snake and food is prepared the day before the festival. On the festival day, the snake is wrapped around a holy tree and ceremonies to pray for a good harvest take place.

Oki Shrine, Spring and Autumn Festival Photo: Oki Shrine, Spring and Autumn Festival 14 April, 14 October
Oki Shrine

This festival takes place twice a year, in spring and autumn, to praise the virtues of Emperor Gotoba, who was exiled to the Oki Islands in 122. A dance choreographed to a poem written by the Emperor is performed. During the spring festival a tea ceremony and tug of war competition take place, and a sumo tournament for children takes place during the autumn festival. Every five years in autumn a thanksgiving festival is held.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Ama Town.

Totte Oki Three Day Walk Photo: Totte Oki Three Day Walk Late May
All Oki Islands

Walk around all four Oki Islands! The annual Three Day Walk will take place in Nakanoshima Island and Chiburijima Island on 30 May, Nishinoshima Island on 31 May and Dogo Island on 1 June. There is also a pre-walk party in Nakanoshima Island on 29 May.

Kakirei Taisai Summer Festival Photo: Kakirei Taisai Summer Festival Ukatsu-mikoto Shrine 5 July Nagirahime shrine (Toyoda)
7 July Hinomisaki shrine (Hisuka)
9 July Miho shirine (Saki)
10 July Tai shrine (Tai)
11 July Uzuka-mikoto Shrine (Uzuka)
12 July Nasu shrine (Minami)
13 July Fuse shrine (Minami)
14 July Kitanosou shrine (Kitabu)
15 July Mikura shrine (Hishiura)
16 July Tatesusanoo shrine (Nishi)
17 July Miyata shrine (Fukui)
20 July Hohomi shrine (Hobomi)
21 July Higashi shrine (Higashi)
22 July Suwa shrine (Nakasato)
25 July Kitano shrine (Chichii)

A large summer festival celebrated in shrines around the island. For each festival there is a celebration the evening before the main festival in which the god of the shrine is brought out in a portable shrine. On both days Kagura Shinto Dances and music are performed. People in each region begin practicing for their festival a month in advance. Some shrines may not have a large celebration every year.

Kinnya-Monya Festival Photo: Kinnya-Monya Festival Fourth Saturday of August

Around 1,000 people dance along to the island folk song, Kinyamonya-bushi. The dance is performed with two wooden spoons called shamoji.

Toyoda Horan-enya Photo: Toyoda Horan-enya Irregular
Miho Shrine

This festival ceremony of Miho Shrine in the Toyoda Area is performed on a boat. After the ceremony, the Sakibarai, who purifies the area ahead of the procession, and the lion perform Kagura Shinto Dances and the holy boat is pulled by young people around the bay. The shouts and songs of the young people echo through the area.

Nishinoshima Town
(Nishinoshima)

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Totte Oki Three Day Walk Photo: Totte Oki Three Day Walk Late May
All Oki islands

Walk around all four Oki Islands! The annual Three Day Walk will take place in Nakanoshima Island and Chiburijima Island on 30 May, Nishinoshima Island on 31 May and Dogo Island on 1 June. There is also a pre-walk party in Nakanoshima Island on 29 May.

Takuhi Shrine Festival Photo: Takuhi Shrine Festival 23 July
Takuhi Shrine (Mita Area)

After the Miko-mai (Shrine maiden dance), Dozen Kagura Shinto Dances take place throughout the night.

Yurahime Shrine Festival Photo: Yurahime Shrine Festival End July Weekend (Odd Years)
Yurahime Shrine (Urago Area)

On the morning of the festival, ceremonies and sumo wrestling are performed. In the evening, the mikoshi, or portable shrine, is brought out and carried to the bay where a holy boat is waiting. When the shrine is placed aboard the boat, it travels around the bay for around one hour. During this time Kagura Shinto Dances are performed upon the boat. Afterwards, the mikoshi is placed in a temporary shrine and brought back to Yurahime Shrine the following day.

Shaara-bune (Spirit Boats) Photo: Shaara-bune (Spirit Boats) 16 August (early morning)
Mita Coast, Urago Coast

Shaara-bune are boats made in order to send off the ancestral spirits that visit during the Obon period. The boats are made with bamboo, branches, and straw. Hundreds of pieces of paper with Buddhist scriptures written on them decorate the sails of the boats.

Mita-hachiman Dengaku Photo: Mita-hachiman Dengaku 15 September (Odd Years)
Mita-hachimangu Shrine (Mita)

During the festival, Shuhaira, a type of Dengaku (Shinto dances accompanied by music) as well as Sumo dances and a Lion dance, are performed. Dengaku was commenced to appease the various spirits of the rice fields.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.

Hiyoshi Shrine Niwa-no-mai Photo: Hiyoshi Shrine Niwa-no-mai October (Even Years)
Hiyoshi Shrine (Urago Area)

During this festival, dances including Shuhaira and Kagura take place. In particular the Niwa-no-mai dance is said to date back 800 years.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.

Chibu Village
(Chiburijima)

Name Photo Date and Location Note
Urumi Somin-shorai Photo: Urumi Somin-shorai 12 January
Urumi Area

This ancient religious practice has its roots in the folk belief of Somin-Shorai, a charm to ward off evil spirits and protect against sickness and disaster. The words "Somin-shorai-massha-shojin" are written on a 30 cm-long willow branch, and prayers are conducted at an alter by a Shinto priest. The names of the head of each household in the area are also read out. The stakes are then placed in seven locations around the entrances to the Urumi Area to prevent illness from entering.
Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Chibu Village.

Odaishi-mairi Photo: Odaishi-mairi 21 March on Lunar Calendar (2016: 27 April)
Temples in each area

On the memorial of the death of Kobo Daishi, a famous Buddhist monk who lived in the 8th-9th century, local people of all ages and religion visit the jizo Buddhist statues and temples around the island. Each temple provides food to the visitors, who eat and then carry on to the next location.

No-daikon-matsuri Wild Radish Festival Photo: No-daikon-matsuri Wild Radish Festival Late April
Niburi-hama Park

At this time of year Mt. Akahage is covered with pretty no-daikon wild radish flowers. At the festival which takes place in Niburi-hama Park, there are performances on stage and various stalls. At the end, mochi, or pounded rice cakes, are thrown into the crowd. This fun local event has a history of over 20 years.

Totte Oki Three Day Walk Photo: Totte Oki Three Day Walk Late May
All Oki Islands

Walk around all four Oki Islands! The annual Three Day Walk will take place in Nakanoshima Island and Chiburijima Island on 30 May, Nishinoshima Island on 31 May and Dogo Island on 1 June. There is also a pre-walk party in Nakanoshima Island on 29 May.

Ikku Shrine Reitai-sai Festival Photo: Ikku Shrine Reitai-sai Festival Every Second Year Late July
Amasasihiko-no-mikoto Shrine (Ikku Shrine)

This festival takes place over two days. On both days, Dozen Kagura Shinto Dances take place. Afterwards, there are other offertorial performances and Kabuki (classical Japanese plays) are performed by children. Traditionally, after prayers in the entrance shrine building on the second day of the festival, children carry a small mikoshi, (portable shrine) alongside the real mikoshi.

Sazae-tsukami-dori Turban Shell Fishing Photo: Sazae-tsukami-dori Turban Shell Fishing Early August(2016: 6 August
Kisane Coast

At this event you can catch as many sazae (Turban shell) as you want! There is also BBQ sazae, rice balls, sausages and other festival fare to enjoy. This unique festival has continued for over 25 years. Participation fee: Adults - 2,000 yen, Children - 1,000 yen.

Chibu-mura Hanabi-taikai Fireworks Festival Photo: Chibu-mura Hanabi-taikai Fireworks Festival 14 August
Nagahama-oki Bay

Possibly the best seating you can get to see a fireworks display in all of Japan; residents lie down to avoid straining their necks while watching the fireworks during this festival. The fireworks can also be seen from neighboring islands, Nishinoshima and Nakanoshima.

Minaichi-hono Offering Photo: Minaichi-hono Offering 15 August on Lunar Calendar (2016: 15 September)
Amasashihiko-no-mikoto shrine (Ikku shrine)

During this dance, participants make a circle around the taiko drums and dance slowly holding a fan.  It is a dance to pray for good crops on the island, as well as wind and rain. This festival was formerly performed in each area of the island, however today it is only practiced in the Nibu Area. The name of the dance "Minna-ichi" comes from the lyrics of the song "everyone line up together as one".  The dance is Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Chibu Village.

Ja-maki Photo: Ja-maki 28 November
Each Area

On the day of this festival, a straw snake is made at the temples of each region in Chiburijima. The snake is carried around the temple or the area three times and then wrapped around a holy tree. The snake is an incarnation of the water god, and the festival is carried out in order to pray for a safe spring harvest.

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