Aug 22, 2011

Akita's Unique Bonden Festival at Obonai Shrine in Tazawako Area

As Bonden Festivals (梵天祭り)are commonly found over Akita Prefecture, each community has its own style of such festival. Obonai Shrine’s annual Bonden Festival is small but as traditional and unique as others. Please come catch a glimpse of our unique festivity that could be never found on your guidebook!

What’s “Bonden” anyway?

Bonden Matsuri is fairly common in Akita Prefecture. There are other cities, where such festival has been traditionally held. According to the Taihei-Miyoshi Shrine, a prestigious shrine in Akita City, the tradition has begun in late Edo Period and it is uniquely practiced in Akita Prefecture.

Before the festival, each group creates a few objects in a shape of cylinder with colorful decoration – they are called “bonten” (or "bonden") and believed to carry the holy spirit of kami (god). At the end of ceremony, they are dedicated to the god at the shrine, wishing for rich harvest, family safety, business success, prosperity, etc.

"Bonden" (梵天)

How is the Bonden Festival done in Tazawako Area?

Bonden Festival (梵天祭り)is held differently in every community. In Tazawako Area, each smaller community (like in Ishigami Area) has its own festival, then on the next day, on August 15, they head down to the bigger shrine, Obonai Shrine.

Click to watch how it was done by Ishigami group last year!

Here are some photos and videos of the Mukai-Obonai  (向生保内)group that arrived first at the shrine this year.

Mukai-Obonai Group performs a few dances before dedicating the bonden to the shrine.

The large bonden is the last to be destroyed before dedicating it to the god at the shrine.

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