New Year Events and Spring Festivals
|December 1st is called "Kigiri Tsuitachi"
or "Karasu Tsuitachi". The whole area of Buzen and Kunisaki
Peninsula, start to make preparations for the coming New Year. The
New Year festival that lifts the hearts of the devout believers begins
with "Horan-enya" at Bungotakata City. It prays for safety
on the sea and a bumper catch of fish. The Horai-sen boat which sets
sail for Katsura River is decorated with flags showing bumper catches
and symbolizes good luck. This festival was originally held on New
Year's Day, but has been changed recently due to the height of the
On Chinese New Year's Day, there is a "Shujo-Onie" event,
where people pray for national security, longevity and health. It
is held at the temples of Tendai Buddhist denomination in the Kunisaki
Peninsula area. Only 3 temples are left to hold the event. These are
the Tennenji-temple (Bungotakata City), Iwatoji-temple (Kunisaki Town)
and Jobutsuji-temple (Kunisaki Town). However, a "Child Onie"
is also held in Maruono area of Musashi Town which has inherited from
an "Onie" of Maruonoji-temple. On the 14th day of Chinese
New Year, fire festivals are held in some places. New Year decorations
such as sacred straw ropes or bamboo brooms, and New Year calligraphy
are burnt in a big fire at night. These festivals are called "Dondo-yaki"
in the north area, or "Tondo-yaki" in the south area of
Oita. When you toast rice cakes on this fire and eat it, you will
be in good health throughout the year. The "Tondo" fire
at Onyujima Island in Saiki City is a relatively big affair reaching
to about 10m high.
Spring festivals are usually held to pray for a good harvest in the
fall. The Rice-planting Festival at Morota-san Shrine in Aki Town
used to be held on the 17th day of the Chinese New Year, but it has
now been changed to Vernal Equinox Day. Farm work such as breaking
the ground with a hoe or managing a cow is acted out in humorous ways
on a precinct resembling God's field. The Rice-planting Festival held
in Hibaru-sanShoheiji-temple in Yabakei Town is an interesting example
of the combination of Shinto and Buddhism. Presently it is held on
the second Sunday of April. "Yoneura" is the predicting
of good or bad omens by reading how molds grow on rice gruel (red
bean rice is used now), and is held on March 15th at Ohara Hachiman
Shrine in Hita City. The "Hatsuuma Grand Festival" held
at Futagoji-temple in Aki Town and Ogimori Inari Shrine in Taketa
City is full of life on the first horse's day of February, which is
the day of the 12 horary signs on the old calendar. Futagoji-temple
is famous for granting child-bearing wishes and Ogimori-Inari Shrine
is well known by the name of "Kotosama". Both the temples
have many worshippers from the areas outside.
Summer Festivals and the Events in "Bon" Season
|The "Gion Festival" is a typical summer
festival and the cities of Usuki, Hita, and Nakatsu has remained tradi-tional
since the Edo period. "Hita Gione" is designated as an Important
Intangible Cultural Asset, reaching a height of 15m with gorgeous
decorations floating around it.
The "Nagoshi Festival" of Usa Shrine used to be known as
the "Fighting Festival" because of the rough and wild races
between floats competing for the top place. Now, 3 portable shrine
parades advance towards the shrine in a wild manner. When it comes
to the Bon Dance, Himeshima has retained an old style that is very
unique. They dance at a place called "Bontsubo" which spreads
throughout the village and there are 3 traditional dances - "Aya
Dance", "Fox Dance" and "Zenidaiko". There
is also a new fancy dress dance every year. There also many types
of Bon Dance in Oita, such as the "Kusaji Dance" (Bungotakata
City) which has a quick tempo, "Tsurusaki Dance" (Oita City)
which is elegant and large scale, and "Sensu Dance" (Tsukumi
There are "Kodai" and "Hashiramatsu" fire festivals
during the Bon period. On the night of August 16th, the Ogata Plain
is filled with over 10,000 torches of fire, resembling a sea of fire.
It is said to be for the extermination of insects, as well as a service
for the departed soul of HARAJIRI Okunojo who was an officer and a
farmer. Hashiramatsu is a service meant especially for one's first
Though it used to be held in many places, particularly in the Hohi
area, only a few places like Kitsuki City remain now. From below,
people compete by tossing up small torches of fire to the pole which
is made from wood or bamboo and which has a funnel stuffed with chaff
at the top.
Horanenya (Bungotakata City)
Local Tondo (Onyujima Island)
Rice-planting Festival ((C)Prefectural History Museum)
Hatsuuma Grand Festival, Ogimori Inari Shrine (Taketa City)
Hita Gion Festival
Fox Dance (Himeshima Island)
Gion Festival Summer festival that is held
in town mainly to avoid plague.
Kodai Fire that welcomes and sends off a
HARAJIRI Okunojo Hatsuuma Grand Festival,
Ogimori An officer who met with an unnatural death in the Edo period.
The soul-sending festival in the Nagasu area in Usa City is called "Shoro-okuri"
and is both famous and traditional. The house organizing the first Bon
festival prepares a gorgeous and expensive huge lantern. On August 15th,
it is burnt to ashes at the graveyard by the coast.