Yama-Butsuke Festival in Kakunodate Area was last week. The locals say, “Kakundoate people live by the festival and for the festival.” The preparation for the coming year starts as soon as it ends this year—Yes, some literally count down the days till the next year.
Kakunodate's Yama Festival is held September 7th-9th every year.
The 3-days event reaches its climax after the dark. As the sun sets, you start to hear the sounds of setta, traditional festival sandals with metal soul, and the heart-lifting o-hayashi (お囃子） music. Let the excitement begin!
Almost everyone is dressed up in the traditional costume.
“Butsuke” means a crash-- so its name, Yama-Butsuke is what the festival is all about. The crashes be seen on Day 2 and 3. The difference is Day 2 is scheduled for the tourists, whereas Day 3 is unpredictable—all happens as a means of koushou, a negotiation.
Crashes on Day 2 are previously announced to the public, so that the tourists could catch a glimpse of the crash. The floats are pulled with ropes on the sides by the hikite (“pullers”) people. It is quickly done but guarantees you to catch a sight.
Day 3 is, on the other hand, not scheduled. Because all the Yama floats have completed the required visits—to the Shinmeisha Shrine, the Yakushi-do Temple, and the Lord of Satake— all the floats have equal rights of the road. This is why the floats crash.
A map to show you the location of each float.
While the float performs a family home, the men discuss the route to take.
Note that crashes on Day 2 so unpredictable on whereabouts so that it does not guarantee you with a sight. Sometimes floats confront for hours but end up not crashing. Plus, these real crashes could take up the entire night. It sure requires a great deal of patience.
The floats crash then pulled by the hikite group. A great team work!
The groups keep on cheering up while the hours long pulling continues.
One of the exciting moment when the Yama floats unbalances.
As you can see in the videos, the crash and pull can take be very slow and abrupt at the same time. You will need a great deal of patience but still, it is one of the most exciting festivals in Japan in which tradition is strongly kept. There are a few things that we want you to keep in mind. But all in all, just come over and enjoy it with us.