Yushima Tenjin

It was the start of the Plum Blossom Festival at Yushima Tenjin on the weekend as it was a public holiday long weekend. Although the blossoms had barely started to come out, quite a few people came to pay their respects at the temple:

Yushima Tenjin 3

As well as try all the food stalls:

Yushima Tenjin 1

Yushima Tenjin 4

Yushima Tenjin 2


Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)6

One of the highlights of the festival is the street parade that takes place during the day.

Smaller floats are pulled through the streets and up to the temple:

Takayama 31-Parade3

Takayama 31-Parade4

Takayama 31-Parade4-2.JPG

Takayama 31-Parade2

Takayama 31-Parade6

They are accompanied by a variety of different traditional musicians and musical instruments:

Takayama 31-Parade10

Takayama 31-Parade17

Takayama 31-Parade5

Takayama 31-Parade18

The parade features participants of all ages – from about 80:

Takayama 31-Parade9

To about 8:

Takayama 31-Parade15

And all ages in between:

Takayama 31-Parade14

Takayama 31-Parade13

Takayama 31-Parade12

Takayama 31-Parade8

Sometimes you need a quick break:

Takayama 31-Parade16

Takayama 31-Parade7

And of course it all ends with the Dragon Dance:

Takayama 31-Parade11

Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)4

Takayama is known as ‘Little Kyoto’ and there are still many old buildings that are wonderfully preserved and give a glimpse of how beautiful it must have been before concrete, if somewhat partial to fire and the odd earthquake.

Some old merchant’s houses:

Takayama 25-Streets5

Takayama 26-Streets6

Takayama 27-Streets7


Takayama 30-Streets10 (lanterns)


Takayama 28-Streets8

Traditional washi paper shop:

Takayama 31-Streets11 (shop)

Traditional snacks:

Takayama 29-Streets9

Sake shop:


Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)3

One of the highlights of the festival is the puppet show held at Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. Each puppet requires “9 puppet masters to manipulate the 36 strings which make the marionettes move in a lifelike manner, with gestures, turns and other movements” (Wikipedia).

The show takes place in front of the main shrine and the puppets are operated from within the float:

Takayama 17-Puppet Show4

The movements are incredibly graceful and lifelike:

Takayama 14-Puppet Show1

Takayama 15-Puppet Show2.JPG

Takayama 16-Puppet Show3

The float being wheeled away for the evening:

Takayama 19-Puppet Show6-Float Leaving Temple

Musicians on the float:

Takayama 20-Puppet Show7-Float Musicians

Autumn leaves at the shrine:

Takayama 18-Puppet Show5-Temple

Takayama Autumn Festival (秋の高山祭)1

During the long weekend we went up to Hida Takayama in Gifu north of Nagoya for the Autumn festival. The Takayama festival is considered the third most beautiful festival in Japan and started in the 16th Century. There are two festivals during the year which were originally harvest festivals. There is a Spring festival known as the Sanno Festival and the Autumn festival on 9th and 10th October. Both festivals feature huge beautifully decorated floats which are pulled through the town and displayed at a shrine where they have a puppet show. There is also a parade through the town of locals in period costume.

This is the Hida River which runs alongside the train. It is featured in a kabuki play called Musume Dojo-ji:

The play tells the story of a maiden, Kiyo-hime, who falls in love with Anchin, a celibate monk living at the Buddhist temple of Dojo-ji on the Kii Peninsula. Unable to control her intense longing for her love, she takes the form of a serpent in order to cross the flooded Hida River. Crossing it, she reverts to her human form. A ceremony is taking place at the monastery to consecrate a temple bell, and she goes to attend it. Kiyo-hime spots the monks and pursues him. The monk hides under the bell placed on the ground. Angered and frustrated at being shunned, Kiyo-hime turns herself into a serpent and coils around the bell until it heats so much that the monk is incinerated. (Wikipedia)

Takayama 1-From the Train

Here is the river  through the centre of Takayama, lined with the usual stalls you find at Japanese festivals (although these ones featured the local specialty of Hida beef – a welcome addition):

Takayama 2-Along the River

The giant torii looking up towards Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine which is where the puppet show is centred:

Takayama 3-Giant Torii

Zooming in on one of the festival floats with the new camera:

Takayama 11-Floats on Street-Zoom

The floats are displayed on the street leading up to the shrine:

Takayama 4-Floats on Street

Takayama 5.1-Floats on Street2

Takayama 5.2-Floats on Street3

Floats with the main entrance to the shrine which dates back to the time of the Emperor Nintoku (413 – 439):

Takayama 12.2-Floats on Street4