Hyogo is a prefecture of arts and culture where people can cultivate the richness in their heart and live a higher quality of life by having arts and culture around them in their daily life. Traditional cultures such as festivals are spread throughout the prefecture.
Awaji Ningyo Joruri
(Awaji Puppet Theater)
There are various theories about the origin of the Awaji puppet show, which has a 500 year history and is a nationally designated important folk cultural property. The method of performance has changed with time, but the essence has not changed throughout the years.
Supported by the people’s effort to protect local tradition, the Awaji puppet play tradition has survived a number of crises and hardships. The members of the Awaji Puppet Theatre Company diligently devote themselves to everyday training in order to pass down this art to the next generation with pride and hope. It takes a long time to master this art.
This is a rare theater company in the world consisting only of unmarried women. Naturally, not only roles of women but also roles of men are played by women. It began in 1914, when 17 girls between the ages of 12-17 took the memorable first stage. Nowadays, more than 400 actresses belong to it and it has become popular all over Japan.
Kenka Matsuri is the name of the autumn festival held at Matsubara Hachiman Shrine in Shirahama-cho, Himeji City. It is known as a strange festival due to a special ritual in which old-fashioned gods collide with each other. It is said to be the largest fight festival in the world, and even before WWII it was known as a representative festival of Harima. After the war, in addition to the portable shrine kneading, the festival’s gorgeous stalls became known not only in Japan but also overseas.
Toka Ebisu is a festival that enshrines Ebisu (Seven Gods of Good Fortune), the god of fishing, the god of prosperous business, and the god of fertility of five grains.
It is held every year from January 9th for 3 days, where the 9th is called Yoiebisu, the 10th is called Hon Ebisu, and the 11th is called Remaining Fortune. This festival is held all over the region, but the main shrine is at Nishinomiya Shrine in Hyogo. Over one million people visit the shrine during this period. A famous part of the event is when a drum is struck at 6 a.m. on January 10, the door of the red gate opens, and worshipers rush to approach all at once. A person who rushes to the shrine at the beginning becomes fukuotoko regardless of their gender. Fukuotoko means a person who has fortune.
This is held in Nankinmachi where there is a China Street in Kobe. It is a grand celebration of the New Year of the lunar calendar (“shunsetsu” in Japanese). Firecrackers ring in Nankinmachi, dragons and lions - important Chinese New Year characters - dance, and the streets are crowded with people.
From 1987 in Nankinmachi, in line with the New Year of the lunar calendar, Shunsetu Matsuri was arranged and held every year. In 1997, it was designated as a regional folk cultural property of Kobe City.