DyDo Group Holdings

Messages from those involved in festivals

[Aomori Prefecture] Aomori Nebuta Festival

Toshikatsu Takahashi
Chairperson, Aomori Citizen’s Nebuta Executive Committee

For residents in Aomori, the Nebuta Festival is a symbol of the region and something they are very proud of. Everyone eagerly looks forward to the early days of August when the festival is held each year. People can enjoy the Nebuta Festival as spectators, dancers, musicians or Nebuta makers. The Aomori Citizen’s Nebuta team first participated in the festival in 2002. These days, many employees of the local branch of DyDo DRINCO join our team, enlivening the atmosphere of the team. We made a great leap forward when we won a prize* for the first time by inviting Asako Kitamura, a Nebuta master. This experience unified the members of our team, bringing them even greater pleasure. Our Nebuta, created in a joint effort between companies and citizens, now serve as a good example for other teams to follow. I like the TV series “Nippon no Matsuri Kessaku-sen” (The Best of the Nippon no Matsuri Episodes), which is rebroadcast nationwide on a BS channel, because it introduces many unfamiliar festivals held in various places around the country. We can learn a lot about the relationships between communities and festivals. When your local festival is covered by the TV program, people in your community will be motivated and energized. Therefore, the DyDo Group “Matsuri” of Japan project is also worthwhile to local communities.

* Great Creator Award presented by the Aomori Nebuta Festival Executive Committee

Date of interview: April 28, 2020

For more information (external website)

[Hokkaido] Nachi Biei Fire Festival

Hiroyuki Watabe, a founding member of the Nachi Biei Fire Festival

This festival originates from the fact that the whole area at the foot of Mount Tokachi became deserted after the eruption of the mountain in 1988. One day, a letter arrived at Biei Shrine, asking about the feasibility of holding a festival to reconstruct the town. The following year, the priest of the shrine and volunteers in the town launched this festival. In this district, there are many people who have migrated from Wakayama Prefecture. Therefore, we named the festival after the Nachi Fire Festival held at the Kumano Nachi Taisha Grand Shrine in Wakayama. The Nachi Biei Fire Festival has been covered by the “Nippon no Matsuri” (Japanese Festivals) TV program twice (2008 and 2014). The episode in 2008 won the grand prize among all “Nippon no Matsuri” episodes broadcast during the year. Thanks to this, recognition of the festival among local residents has grown, the number of tourists from distant places has increased, and local people became motivated all at once. Even those who have migrated to urban areas give us jubilant comments. These days, many young people are willing to participate in the festival as torch bearers, reducing concerns about finding successors to carry on the tradition. Still now, I am deeply thankful to Biei Shrine for founding the festival from scratch to help the community out of its difficulties, and also to the DyDo Group Nippon no Matsuri episodes for featuring this fairly young festival.

Date of interview: April 28, 2020

For more information (external website)

[Akita Prefecture] Namahage Festival in Oga

Ritsu Sato, Namahage performer in the Kotogawa district

The Namahage festival is a traditional folk festival conducted in and around Oga City. I remember that I was terrified by the visits of Namahage performers when I was a child. In the Kotogawa district where I live, the festival has never been canceled. Today, however, it has gradually become more difficult for all districts to continue the festival due to depopulation. I strongly hope to protect our community by preserving our traditions. Now I realize that my ten years’ experience of performing Namahage has made me mentally mature. The television coverage of the Namahage Festival in Oga evoked various responses and brought about favorable changes: people in my community and at work were delighted, the understanding of the Namahage Festival has deepened among those living in areas where the festival is not held (now they know how horrifying the festival really is), and interactions among districts where the festival is held have taken place. I think the DyDo Group “Matsuri” of Japan project is absolutely wonderful. Through the TV episodes rebroadcast nationwide on BS, I can see people’s intense dedication to the festivals. Now I look at DyDo DRINCO’s vending machines in a different way. Ha ha.

Date of interview: April 28, 2020

For more information (external website)