UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Kumamoto Prefecture nationally designated Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property Yatsushiro Myoken Festival of faith events

Origin of Myouken-sai


During the feudal period, the Sagara clan reigned Yatsusiro and worshipped deities and Buddha, in particular, celebrating festivals by dedicating Mai-kagura (sacred dance performance) and horseback archery.

The building of Myouken-gu, later renamed as Yatsushiro Shrine in 1871, was built in 1186, and the estate of the shrine and the festival have been kept up since 1600. Tadaoki Hosokawa particularly worked on reconstruction of Myouken-gu after he entered the castle in Yatsushiro. It is archived that he had a portable shrine made in 1636 and he himself drew an image of a dragon on the ceiling of the shrine. Then he donated the shrine, various materials and instruments used for the festival, and costumes worn in shrines and temples to restore magnificent processions, thereby establishing the status of the Shito rituals.

After Tadaoki’s death, Okinaga Matsui entered the castle and succeeded the festival. During the reign of Naoyuki Matsui, farmer footmen, the lion, floats, and Game carried by townspeople started to accompany the procession, which was then reorganized to establish the model of magnificent festival processions today.


Origin of Yatsushiro-gu (Myouken-gu) or Yatsushiro Shrine


According to the shrine records, in the fall of the year 680, Myouken shrine incarnated as Kengyo Mabuka, Jiro Tenaga, and Saburou Ashibaya crossed the sea on the back of Game from Ningbo, China, landed at Yachiwatakeharatsu (present-day near Takehara Shrine in Yatsushiro), and provisionally settled there for approximately three years. This has been believed to be the origin of Yatsushiro-gu (Myouken-gu).
Myouken-gu consists of three shrines: jo-gu, the building of a Shinto shrine complex built upon the highest ground; chu-gu, the building of a Shinto shrine complex built upon the middle ground; and ge-gu, the building of a Shinto shrine complex built upon the lowest ground. Myouken jo-gu was built on the top of Mt. Mimuro 100 meters above sea level and chu-gu was built in the depth of the valley of Chugu River at the foot of Mt. Mimuro, and ge-gu has been told to have been built at the foot of Ootago Akatsuchi-yama in Yatshusiro-gun.

Although it was destroyed by Yukinaga Konishi in 1588, Masataka Kato built the palace and restored Myouken-gu in 1622.


Procession (o-Nobori) time schedule (November 23)
07:15 Departure preparation at Shioya Hachiman-gu
07:30 Departure from Shioya Hachiman-gu
08:00 Pass through Honmachidori
08:30 Arrive at Harmony Hall/Demachi Park
09:00 The lion dance is performed by children at Yatsushiro Station
09:30 The main procession is scheduled to arrive at Yatshushiro Station
09:50 Introduction/Departure from Yatsushiro Station
11:00 Scheduled to arrive at Yatsushiro Shrine
11:00~12:30 Decorated floats/Game/Wooden horses/palanquin are exhibited at the Miyaji Elementary School ground
12:30 The lion dance is performed at Tosaki-no-Kawara.
13:00 The procession leaves for Tosaki-no-Kawara.
13:10~16:20 Hanayakko (manservants leading the procession carrying spears, long-handled spears, and huge boxes for clothes, etc.)/shinme (sacred horses)/Game/Kazariuma (decorated horses), etc. perform at Tosaki-no-Kawara.
14:30~ Shishi (lions)/shinme (sacred horses)/mikoshi (portable shrine) leave for chu-gu.
15:00 Kasaboko (decorative floats)/Game leaves for downtown Yatsushiro.
15:30 Shishi/shinme/mikoshi depart from chu-gu.
20:00~21:00 The lion dance is performed at Honmachi Fudanotsuji.

Faith matrix Shioya Hachimangu starting November 23, 2019 until 7:30

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