Aug 2, 2011

Tazawako Dragon Festival 2011 (Part 1: Tatsuko's In-nai Mountain Pass Hiking Tour)

Tazawako Dragon Festival (たざわ湖・龍神まつり;Tazawako Ryujin Matsuri) is the biggest summer event at Lake Tazawa. It is held annually on the 4th Saturday of July. This year it was held on Saturday, July 23rd.

The event features daytime activity such as a hiking tour and amateur music band performances. Traditional drum performance follows in the evening and welcoms thousands of visitors to watch the 2 dragon floats are carried to the beach and the night finale is a show of a thousand fireworks!

Part 1: Tatsuko’s In-nai Mountain Pass Hiking Tour:

Tazawako Dragon Festival starts with a ritual festival to commemorate Tatsuko, the legendary girl who became the guardian dragon of Lake Tazawa after 100-times prayers to attain her eternal beauty.

In the Legend of Tatsuko, she is said to be from In-nai Area, about 5km south of Lake Tazawa. First, a ritual ceremony was held at the birthplace of Tatsuko. Miss Tatsuko and other community members gathered to visit Tatsuko’s descendant family and gravestones of Tatsuko and her parents – to wish for the safety around the lake and the success of the festival.

Tatsuko's family still lives here.

A Shinto ritual was held in front of the graves.

Every year, a girl and a man are appointed as Tatsuko (辰子)and Hachiro-Taro(八郎太郎). “Miss Tatsuko” is no pageant – there is no beauty contest. A person who is recommended can be chosen each year. Tatsuko for this year was Miss. Chiho Katsuta, 24. She was chosen not only for her beauty but also her hard-working reputation. She is a very sweet and bright girl!

Some locals came to take a glimpse of the year’s Miss Tatsuko. Some teenage girls had come this year as “future Tatsuko” and were asked to join the ritual as well.

Miss Tatsuko was given the amulet of Okura Shrine.

After the ritual, the group moved to a trailhead to Mt. In-nai, near the ruins of Okura Shrine (now it is relocated in Jindai area.). A hiking tour departs from there, which follows the route that is believed that Tatsuko had taken to after receiving a divine message at the shrine to search for “a spring in the north”.

While the group hikes up in the mountains, the rest of us awaited at the event site in Shirahama area, about 10 km away. (Part 2)

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