Sep 14, 2010

Visiting the Lord of Satake, Our Governor!

Kakunodate is dubbed as Little Kyoto of the Tohoku region. The town is known for mainly 3 things: cherry blossoms, the Samurai residences, and the fall festival.

Bukeyashiki Dori in the fall is beautifully colored.
 Photo Courtesy of Semboku City. See the  Live Camera.

 Last week was the fall festival. We still have been in the post-fever haze. On the Day 2 of the Yama-Buttsuke Festival, you can check out the last two of the must-see list —the Yama floats pays a visit to the current "Lord of the Satake Clan” in the street of Samurai residences.

Lines of Yama Floats could be seen in the street.

If you are keen on geography, you might notice that Kakunodate is laid out according to the grid pattern that is quite similar to other historical towns like Kyoto. No Wonder— it is because the city was established based on the feudatory hierarchy. The castle and the higher-rank Samurai families lived closer to the Satake Family, the ruler of Akita in the Edo period. Farther down is a town of craftsman, and farmers followed along.

Back to the story. On the middle day of Yama festival, a float group is required to visit the Satake Residence on the far end of the Samurai street (Bukeyashiki-dori:武家屋敷通り). The groups then have a honorary performance before the Lord of Satake—it is called Satake-Kita-Ke-Joran (佐竹北家上覧).

The moving floats must accompany with music.


A float is as heavy as 2 tons.

The street is full of people.

The Bukeyashiki-dori is a boulevard that runs straight to his residence called Satake-kita-ke, literally meaning “the Satake North Residence”.

The head of the Satake family waits for all the 18 groups to perform the traditional routines. Some might  recognize the current head of the Satake Family—believe it or not—it is our own prefectural governor, Mr. Satake!!

The group performs in front of the Lord...

... and he is our governor, Mr. Satake!

The hikites sing as well.

The kabuki-themed dolls (人形)

Odorite (踊り手)

A group of hikite (曳き手) who moves the floats.

The musicians are inside the float.

O-hayashi (お囃子)music is consisted of 6 different kinds of instruments.

Here is a video to show you how Satake-Joran is done! Enjoy!

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