Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu
The festival shouts of 'Down! Down! The Lord comes!' echoing in the hot spring town under the autumn sky
An annual tourist event held on Culture Day (a national holiday), November 3rd, at Yumoto Onsen, Hakone. A procession of a total of 170 people dressed up as samurai warriors and princesses parades over a distance of some 6 km in the hot spring town.
The procession is reproduced in the style of the Daimyo Gyoretsu (feudal lord's procession)which was also known as sankin kotai during the Edo Period (1603-1867). The suite of retainers, each assigned with his role, and armed with spear, bow and arrow, or gun, march on as they carry their lord in the palanquin to the words, 'Down! Down! The Lord comes!' voiced aloud by those leading the procession.
The sankin kotai was a system established by the Tokugawa Shogunate reigning over Japan back then to prevent its subordinate feudal lords from rising in rebellion. By obliging the daimyo lords to go back and forth between their domains and Edo (present-day Tokyo) in alternate years, the Shogunate Government aimed at weakening their financial power.
At 10 o'clock in the morning, the Hakone Daimyo Gyoretsu departs from Sounji Temple, and while carrying out diverse activities on the way, arrives at Yumoto Fujiya Hotel, the final destination, a little past 2 o'clock in the afternoon. The festival is made all the more merry by the performances of the marching bands accompanying the daimyo procession at the front and at the very end, and the dance performances by the geigi unique to hot spring resorts (geigi are women who entertain guests at sake parties with song and dance). Another of the delights of the Daimyo Gyoretsu in Hakone is that you can enjoy bathing in an onsen hot spring to relieve your fatigue once the festival is over.
From Tokyo:[Rail]Hakone Yumoto Station is about 15 minutes from Odawara Station on the Hakone Tozan Railway.Odawara Station is about 35 minutes from JR Tokyo Station on the Tokaido Shinkansen or 1 hour 30 minutes on the Tokaido Line.
Place: Yumoto Hot Spring Town
Dates: November 3rd
City: Hakone-machi, Ashigara-Shimo-gun, Kanagawa Prefecture