• Culture
  • Tochigi

Karasuyama's Yamaage-matsuri Festival

An extravagant open-air play unmatched even in Japan

The Yamaage-matsuri Festival consists of the Karasuyama Yamaage Festival and the mikoshi (portable shrine) of the Yagumo Shrine. The festival is held for three days around the fourth Saturday of July in Nasukarasuyama City, Tochigi Prefecture. The Yamaage Festival boasts a tradition dating back over 450 years and features an extravagant open-air kabuki play unmatched even in Japan. The main attractions are the beautiful dance and the stage setting with the perfectly coordinated movement of young people. During the festival, numerous street stalls are set up and the area is abuzz with spectators.

Registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage

The Yamaage Festival was registered as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2016. “Yama (mountain)” in the Yamaage Festival stands for Harikayama, a mountain made of washi paper and bamboo and used as the stage background for the open-air kabuki play. The perfectly coordinated group movement of young people lifting this mountain behind the stage is also a must-see. Once the stage is set, a beautiful dance performance by a group of dancers delights and entertains. There are also other stirring performances such as "Masakado" in which a Gamagaeru (giant toad) appears; "Modoribashi," which features an ogress; and "Hebihimesama" based on the folktale of Karasuyama.

Yamaage Center

Yamaage Center offers enjoyable year-round learning about the Yamaage Festival. At this facility, a human-like robot named Kansuke Jiisan (Grandpa Kansuke) provides a detailed explanation of the Yamaage Festival. Visitors can get a close look at the large stalls actually used for the festival as well as a one-fifth-scale replica of the actual stage. Local specialty products are sold at the convenient tourist product corner offering the perfect souvenirs.

Location

Name Karasuyama's Yamaage-matsuri Festival
Website (In Japanese) https://www.nasukara-yamaage.jp/
Address 2-5-26 Kanai, Nasukarasuyama-shi, Tochigi (Yamaage Center)
Access Approximately 10 minutes' walk from JR Karasuyama Station
Approximately 50 minutes' drive from the Utsunomiya Kaminokawa IC on the Kita Kanto Expressway
Inquiries TEL: 0287-84-1977 (Yamaage Center/Nasukarasuyama Tourist Association)

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