Kaze No Bon:
Kaze no Bon is a Japanese festival held every year from September 1 to 3. Kaze-no-Bon literally translates to “Bon Dance of the Wind.” This is a traditional folk event to appease the wind and pray for a bountiful crop, and is held every year for three days. It corresponds to the 210th day from the first day of spring according to the traditional Japanese calendar and is considered a day often beset by calamities when farmers are frequently struck by typhoons. This festival, having a history of about 300 years, is recently becoming a popular tourist attraction to the otherwise sparsely populated mountain area. The original festival was held in order to appease typhoons and allow for a bountiful harvest of rice.
Kaze-no-Bon originated as a “wind-subduing” ritual. Under the lunar calendar, hassaku (August 1) is when the rice ears grow heavy with grain. This date, 210 days from the traditional first day of spring in early February (risshun, midway between the winter solstice and spring equinox) , is an inauspicious day for wind, and a ritual was performed in the hope that the ears would not blow over before harvest. Obviously the ritual was the same as others across Japan, and in the festivals’ earliest years during the Genroku era (1688-1704), in Yatsuo as elsewhere it appears to have been a rather vulgar, noisy affair.Read More
A transformation occurred in the Taisho and early Showa years, when a local doctor by the name of Junji Kawasaki invited top writers, artists and practitioners of Japanese Butoh dance to Yatsuo and encouraged them to mingle with like-minded local enthusiasts for matters artistic. As a result the dancing became more refined, and the foundations were laid for the separate men’s and women’s dances. Each of the 11 districts of Yatsuo has subsequently evolved its own original dances, from stage dancing to circle dances, as well as dances that mime agricultural work, as prayers for a good harvest.
Ecchu Owara has a 300-year-long history. Its song and dance is tender and elegant, and creates a graceful atmosphere with its melancholic melody. Dancers dressed in identical Happi coats (male) or Yukatas (female) wearing a straw hat dance from sloped street to street in the town that retains a remnant of the old days with its lattice-doors and old warehouses, which looks like a wave of straw hats passing before spectators. All the men and women of the town stop working during the days of the festival. They light small lampstands covered with paper and dance all night while singing the “Ecchu Owara Bushi”which is a folk song handed down in Yatsuo-machi town, Toyama Prefecture. Accompaniment is provided by three-stringed Japanese musical instruments, smaller Japanese stringed instruments and drums. The women all wear the same type of cotton summer kimono with black sashes and hats made by braiding straw, while the men wear short jackets and amigasa hats.
The traditional, old-fashioned, shop-lined sloping streets and winding staircases of the small town make the festival quite spectacular, and aside from the dance, games, trinkets and other traditional foods and services are also offered from the tiny shops lining the streets. Special Japanese paper is a popular souvenir for visitors to this festival.