3 days of regional folk entertainment in the streets
The annual Michinoku Traditional Dance Festival which is held for 3 days starting from the 1st Saturday in August provides spectacular folk entertainment from the area surrounding Kitakami City which features over 100 performance groups doing all kinds of dance centering on the Onikenbai. The many kinds of valuable entertainment that have continued to be passed down over the generations have been brought together so that it’s great to be able to see all at once the spectacle of various kinds of traditional performances. The main venue is the plaza in front of JR Kitakami Station called Omatsuri Plaza and the area comes alive with many events, parades and group dances. In addition, places such as the area’s shrines, temples and indoor halls also hold traditional entertainment so that the entire town is overflowing with amusements.
The traditional Kitakami entertainment of the Onikenbai and the fireworks finale
Kitakami City boasts one of Japan’s largest conglomerations of folk entertainment groups which have passed down the traditional culture of the city for ages, and it has been said that the area is a treasure trove of folk entertainment. The Onikenbai that is at the heart of Kitakami is famous as a symbolic dance. With the dancers putting on ferocious devil’s masks and elegantly using swords and fans, they dexterously move their heads and torsos about as if they were brave heroes. At the Grand Onikenbai Group Dance which is held on the 2nd night of the festival, about 200 dancers move all at once among the bonfires. They show off incredible performances that are sublime yet heroic. To wrap up the 3 days of festivities, there is a show of 10,000 fireworks and the torokko nagashi. The torokko nagashi is a 360-year-old custom involving lit lanterns being floated down the river, and while people are enjoying the fireworks bursting overhead, the sight of these lanterns going downstream at a slow pace is also impressive. It’s the perfect finale to this energetic and splendid festival during the hot summer.