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




It has been told that the lion dance performance began in Genroku era (1688–1704) when Kanshichi Izakuraya, a merchant in the castle town of Yatsushiro, introduced it to Myouken-sai.
When visiting Nagasaki on business, Kanshichi saw the Lion Rakan (Arhat Lion) perform in Suwa Shrine festival in Nagasaki (Nagasaki Kunchi). Since the rhythm of the music played with instruments were very unique and interesting, he wanted to bring the lion in Yatsushiro Myouken-sai at any expense. Although in those days he could not take immediate action, he went to Nagasaki in the fall when he was 21 years old to learn how to play a drum among other things. Later, he simplified the Lion Rakan performances to teach young people and children since they were very difficult to learn. As a result of his such efforts, the lion dance was performed for the first time in Myouken-sai in 1691.

Mikoshi: a divine palanquin or a portable Shinto shrine


In March, 1635, Tadaoki Hosokawa, lord of Yatsushiro castle at the time, dedicated the magnificent Mikoshi whose inside and outside were covered with gold leaves and Tadaoki himself drew the image of a dragon on the ceiling. You can see the vigorous samurai culture in early Edo era in it.
Shrine parishoners from 10 different areas including Yatsushiro city and counties (gun) are taking turns every year to serve in the festival.

Kasaboko: parade floats


The origin of kasaboko dates back to sometime between 1681 and 1687.

The basic structure of kasaboko consists of three parts: the undercarriage (dai), the column standing upright in the center (hashira), and the octagonal plane parasol (kasa) placed on top of the column.
The column consists of a hollow cylinder (sotobashira) and the column placed inside the cylinder (uchibashira). “Kasa” is placed on top of the uchibashira, which supports the entire weight of kasaboko except that of the under carriage with that one point of the column end. The framework of “kasa” is made of three different wooden parts. In addition, architectural decorations/sculptures or engravings/Mizuhiki-maku (curtains) are placed on kasaboko.

Game [gáme]: the mythical giant creature with half snake and half turtle


The first appearance of Game in Myouken-sai is thought to date back to 1681-1689. There is no records of its specific description. Game with characteristics similar to those of today’s Game can be traced as far back as early 1760s. Particularly, the Game image drawn in a picture scroll in 1846 differ little compared to that of today.
As indicated above, Game has been handed down for generations without changing its appearance from Edo era to the present even though its structure or make may have changed or it has been repaired along the way.