The charm of the Ogaki Festival, seen from the history of the town. / Mr. Asano’s interview ①

The Ogaki Festival is coming soon. The opening date of 2018 is May 12 (Sat) and 13 (Sun).

Ogaki Festival was designated as an important intangible cultural asset of the country in 2015, and it is registered as UNESCO intangible cultural heritage in the 2016. It was an inconspicuous existence as a local festival so far, but it became a festival of the world-wide fame.

Ogaki city is said to be the capital of water, a beautiful river flows, and water is blooming everywhere. It is exciting just by imagining how a splendid “Yama” proceeds through the young leaves’ way.

Mr. Asano was born in Ogaki, brought up in Ogaki, and served as a reconstruction chairperson when rebuilding “Aioi Yama”.

In recent years he has published a book “The Folklore of the Local Culture, Ogaki Festival”, so to speak, he is a specialist of the Ogaki Festival.

Mr.Asano’s interview article will be delivered twice. In the first half I heard stories about ‘History and attractions of the Ogaki Festival’.




– Originally, the Ogaki Festival is regarded as an annual festival of the Ogaki Hachiman Shrine, please tell us the history of the Ogaki Hachiman Shrine.


Originally Ogaki city was a manor called “Todaiji Oiso” for about 700 years from the Nara era to the Sengoku period. The Great Buddha of Todaiji was completed in 752, Emperor Shomu  passed away in 756. According to the will of the Emperor, the Ogaki was donated to the Emperor as the manor of Todaiji. At that time, “Oi sou”, it was a rectangle manor that is about 2 kilometers east and west and 1.35 kilometers north / south, and the center area of the current Ogaki is applicable as it is. In 1071, Hayashi, Mitsuka, Kaizone, Ezaki etc. were added and expanded and it became a shape close to the square of 2.5 km north-south 2.5 m east-west.


Because Todaiji was greatly assisted by Usa Hachimangu Shrine (Oita prefecture) when making the Great Buddha, they shaved Hachimangu Shrine in the Temple Mountain in the Shrine as a god of guardians of Todaiji Temple. In 1334, Fujie Shinpachi of Fujie village of Oi manor greeted it in the forest of Sayakachi, and then in 1451 it was transfered to the present Nishitogawa-cho as the general guardian of 18 villages of Oi manor. Since then it has been believed as the total guardian of the old 18 villages.

– What is a manor?
Although it will be a bit difficult story, the manor was the land dominated by central aristocrats and shrines that had been from the Nara period to the Sengoku period.In order to make private estate a manor, permission from the court was necessary. When they got a manor, they got the right to exempt national taxes and refuse police authority. Instead, they paid a pension to the lord. Oi so paid Minokinu and Asanuno as a tribute as expenses such as the Kegone party and Hokkee of the most important legislation of Todaiji.

– When was Yama appearing at the Ogaki Festival?

By tracing back to history, it was the first time that Yama appeared in the Ogaki Festival, the son of the town-warden Kajikawa Hidemori wrote in 1669 the Hachimangu Engisyo, and it said “the people in the village were pleased when Mr. Toda Ujikane rebuilt Hachimangu, and they donated three shrines and the people around the castle made “Kurumawatarimono and walk around with it.”



– What was “Kurumawatarimono”?

“Kurumawatarimono” was not gorgeous like the present Yama, but it was a large truck with a quick doll and decorations. For example, one of the Kurumawatarimonos, Ishibikiyama, was used a truck for carrying stones during the extension work of Ogaki Castle.
In 1679, Ogaki ‘s Yama was reorganized, painted by lacquer, decorated by metal fittings, sculptures, a variety of handcraft such as puppets, decorations, karakuri, dance, etc. Yama got luxurious now.


– When will the preparation of the Ogaki Festival begin?

In Honmachi, about three weeks before the festival, schedule adjustment will start for the whole conference. From 2 weeks ago, the training of dancing starts gathering from small children in elementary school lower grades to elderly people at offices of shrines. In the lesson there is a section called “Starting a practice, Middle training, last practice”, and they have banquets with food and sake.


-How do you practice Ohayashi?

It is fun of course on the festival day, “Ohayashi practice” is also fun. Lower class students are in the front row, followed by a whistle senior high school student, and their mothers who whistle in the last row. They get together to practice Ohayashi in a narrow office.
It looks like fun but it’s serious. If you participate in 2 weeks of practice you can get along with about 150 people. Ohayashi Practice is an indispensable tool for town planning.


-They have a consciousness that “they are making Yama by themselves”, so do you think it seems that attachment about Yama comes about?

I agree. Some people live wondering how to tap a drum well and blow a whistle well, and some veterans serve as people who carry Yama for over 20 years. The people who prepares for lunch, dinner, late night meal, the people who manage Yama. These are tough jobs but everyone likes festivals. Some groups from Nagoya participate every year from practice to the end of the festival.

– Please tell us the sights of the festival day as Mr.Asano.

First of all it is Kagura Yama. There is a history of 370 years in this shrine’s “hot-water shrine”, which is a valuable heritage now.

Mr. Ebisu blows fire when making makeup, and Oguro blows water. It is a uniquetradition of Ogaki fire which was a large fire, flood, and drought. Mr. Ebisu has a beautiful face, but it was pocky 20 years ago.

If you want to see the highlight of the festival, please see the brochure (free) of the “Ogaki Festival” issued by the Ogaki Festival Executive Committee. The pamphlet is located at the police headquarters south of Yahata Shrine, Tourist Association, Rest area North of Honcho Kibune shrine.
Please enjoy the festival of Ogaki in early summer.


– Mr.Asano, thank you very much!