Kasuga Wakamiya On-Matsuri
An elegant festival of traditional performing arts continuously passed down since the 12th Century
The On-Matsuri is a festival held at Wakamiya-jinja Shrine which stands in the precincts of the Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine. It was first organized in the 12th Century when an epidemic prevailed, and prayers were offered at this festival for the eradication of the plague and also for the blessing of a rich harvest. This historic festival continues to be one of the largest annual events of Nara Prefecture, attracting a great many tourists.
Although it lasts for 4 days, the greatest attractions of the festival are concentrated on the 17th, which is known as Hon-Matsuri. It is really worthwhile attending the performances of kagura, which is music dedicated to the gods, and bugaku, or court music accompanied by traditional dance. As it features all kinds of other traditional performing arts which we rarely have the chance to come across in our daily lives, this festival will surely satisfy those who have a keen interest in traditional performing arts as well as traditional music.
On the afternoon of the 17th, there is a splendid Jidai Gyrotesu (Procession of the Eras) in which customs and manners of each era are reproduced by more than 500 people in total. Here, you can have a glimpse into how fashion changed from the Heian Period to the Edo Period, in other words, from the 9th Century to the 19th Century.
It is also important to note that the music and dance of gagaku and bugaku of the Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine are designated as important intangible folk cultural properties* of Japan. This refers to manners and customs related to food, clothing and shelter, vocation, faith, annual events, and folkloric performing arts, etc., which have been established by the people in daily life and passed down through generations, deemed especially valuable by the Japanese Government.
*An important intangible folk cultural property refers to manners and customs related to food, clothing and shelter, vocation, faith, annual events, and folkloric performing arts, etc., which have been established by the people in daily life and passed down through generations, deemed especially valuable by the State.
[Bus]About 5 minutes' walk from Kasuga Taisha Honden bus terminal. Kasuga Taisha Honden bus terminal is about 7 minutes' ride from Kintetsu Nara Station on the Nara Kotsu Bus bound for Kasuga Taisha Honden.
Place: Wakamiya-jinja Shrine
(in the precincts of the Kasuga Taisha Grand Shrine)
Dates: December 15th-18th
City: 160, Kasugano-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture