Sightseeing

Doburoku Festival

Last updated August. 28, 2014

Outline

People pray to the mountain god for safety and a good harvest and offer doburoku(unrefined sake) to the shrine to express their gratitude. While private alcoholic beverage production is banned in Japan, people in Shirakawa are given special permission to produce doburoku for a limited quantity for this festival. Doburoku looks like rice porridge. It is thick and slightly sweet. Doburoku first offered to the shrine later entertains people gathered in the precincts. People there dance, perform niwaka(improvised buffoonery), sing songs and so on. The Doburoku Matsuri Festival is the biggest among the festivities for the villagers.

Doburoku Festival

After rice harvest in the village, it’s time for the biggest event of the year “Doburoku” festival. Brewing a “Doburoku” (Sake) made from locally produced products (such as rice, clear water from mountain) become a symbol of the ceremony and shared with villagers and visitors. Praise for home and village peace and prosperity are the origin of the festival. Not only a ceremony at each shrine, it contains performance of traditional arts such as lion dance and fork songs of Shirakawa Village. With the taste of our Doburoku, you may find true hospitality of Shirakawa Village.

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History of Doburoku Festival

In legend, the brewing of “Doburoku” started from Wado age (early 7th Century). It used to brew from foxtail millet (awa) and Japanese barnyard millet (hie) which produced in each district of the village. With a blessing of Doburoku would mean thanks to the grace of mountain.
Since alchohol beverage production banned in Japan, people in Shirakawa are given permission to produce Doburoku for a limited quantity for this festival. Doburoku looks like rice porridge. It is thick and slightly sweet. Doburoku first offered to the shrine then served to a people gathered in the precincts.

Festival day for each shrine

District Shrine Festival day
Ogimachi Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine 14th – 15th Oct.
Hatogaya Hatogaya Hachiman Shrine 16th – 17th Oct.
Iijima Iijima Hachiman Shrine 18th – 19th Oct.

Schedule for the festival

Schedule (begining time) Contents Notes
8:00- festival Shinto rites Ceremony at a shrine
9:00- going round the town Parade
15:00-16:00 dedicating Shishimai Precincts of a shrine
15:00-16:00 blessing with Doburoku Precincts of a shrine
15:00-16:00 dedicating the folk songs “Hougei-den” at a shrine
19:00- dedicating Shishimai Precincts of a shrine
21:00- dedicating public entertainment “Hougei-den” at a shrine
* For more details, please make inquires at shrine.

Entertainment

“Shishimai” Lion Dance an important intangible cultural asset designated by Gifu Prefecture.

Shishimai (Lion dance), a living dance, has been cultivated by a long history and is highly evaluated as one of the highlights of entertainment for Shirakawa-go. During the Doburoku Festival, spectators been totally absorbed in a world of tradition.
Presently, 7 organizations keep the tradition alive.The large”Mukade Shishi”(Lion like a centipede) is given life when 4 dancers get under one cloth and dance with 8 legs.
Another interesting lion dance tells us of a legend of 2 boys fight bravery to quell raging lion, using a Japanese sword and halberd.

Folk songs in Shirakawa-go

Folk songs in Shirakawa-go
A long time ago when traffic was held up by snow, singing and dancing accompanied by the shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed banjo-like instrumental) were their only comfort.
The people in Shirakawa-go lived in such harsh winters for hundreds of years, and so many folk songs were composed and handed down.
“Kodaijin” “Wajima” and “Shossho” etc. are very unique in this village, and they are always sung and danced when people have auspicious occasion, for example a wedding reception, the erection of the frame of a house, restoration of a thatched roof and so on.
“Kodaijin” (an important intangible cultural asset) has especially became famous for its unique words, melody, and dance.

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