The Final of three missions to be achieved during the Yama Festival in Kakunodate is a visit to the Yakushi-do Temple (薬師堂).
The Yakushi-Do Temple (薬師堂）in Kakunodate Area
The Okiyama ("Placed Yama") is seen in front of the temple during the festival.
A doll on an Okiyama
The Yakushi-do’s history can be traced back a thousand years, when Kakunodate Area was under the control by the Tozawa Clan. There was a small shrine that was rumored as beneficial for a medical purpose (薬師). When the Lord of Tozawa suffered from an eye disease, he had come to this small site. After a pray, his disease was cured, so that he donated an oratory here. More wishes had come true since then, so Seiju (成就), or “wish-fulfilling” was added to its name.
On derivation of the religious site
Over a thousand years, the Yakushi-do Temple has been a familiar site for the Kakunodate locals. They have called it, “O-Yakushi-San”.
The Yama floats are required to visit here either on the Day 2 or 3-- Day 2 of Yoi-Matsuri (宵祭り), Evening Festival : Day 3 of Hon-Matsuri (本祭り), the Main Festival. This tradition is designated by the national government as an Important Intangible Cultural Property.
Basically, the visit has the same routine as at the Shinmeisha. The float is placed before the torii gate; the hikite (“pullers”) group proceeds to the main shrine and receive purification and a prayer, while the dancers perform for the dedication; when done, the float is moved and the baton is passed.
A Yama float arrives.
It shifts its space to upright to the main shrine.
The purification and a prayer in a ceremony.
Meanwhile, the dancers perform on the Yama front.
The street is full of floats and the spectators.
The narrow street is full of people.
One thing, though, is that after the completion of these missions, the privilege rule will lose its effectiveness; therefore, the floats are to negotiate over which float takes the route and which to yield. If disagree, the moment of decision would come.
Ladies and gentlemen-- Our next post is the moment of Yama-Buttsuke, the Crash of Floats.