Origin of the Shizuoka Festival
The Shizuoka Festival began in 1957 as a response to the Hatsukakae Festival at Shizuoka Sengen Shrine.
In 1949, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the city’s incorporation, Shizuoka Sengen Shrine revived the children’s procession, and the Cherry blossom viewing parade was organized by the Shizuoka Shotenkai, creating the prototype for the Shizuoka Festival.
The current “Shizuoka Festival” began in 1957.
Shizuoka Sengen Shrine
The three Shinto shrines of Kambe Shrine, Sengen Shrine (two shrines in the same building) and Otoshimioya Shrine are collectively known as Shizuoka Sengen Shrine (commonly called Osengen-sama).
Kambe Shrine was established about 2,100 years ago under the reign of the tenth Emperor Sujin as the ancestor god of Suruga’s development and the great god of Suruga’s national spirit.It is the oldest shrine in the region, and is described as Miwa Myojin in the “Kokunai Shinmeicho” and as a subordinate in the “Ruiju Kokushi”.
Sengen Shrine was enshrined in the first year of Enki Era (901) at the imperial request of Emperor Daigo from the main shrine of Mt.Fuji.Since then, it has been revered by the national government as Fuji Shingu.
The Otoshimioya Shrine was founded in the 4th year of Emperor Ohjin (273), about 1,700 years ago, as a guardian deity of the “Abe no Ichi”, which was the center of distribution and commerce in this region in ancient times.That is listed as Shonii Nakoya Myojin in the “Kokunai Shinmeicho” and is the local deity of Shizuoka City.
All three shrines are highly revered by the imperial court, national governors, and military commanders, and are widely worshiped as the general shrines of Suruga Province, the local deities of Shizuoka, and the major shrines of Suruga.
In addition, there are four other shrines within the precincts of the shrine: Hayama Shrine, Yachihoko Shrine, Sukunahikona Shrine, and Tamahoko Shrine, for a total of 40 shrines (there is also Toshogu Shrine, which enshrines Ieyasu Tokugawa).
The main hall of Shizuoka Sengen Shrine (designated as an Important Cultural Property by the national government) is a three-story, two-story tower with a gabled roof with a staggered gable on the first floor and a gabled roof on the second floor.
The Hatsukae Festival, the annual festival of Shizuoka Sengen Shrine, is a celebration that heralds spring in Shizuoka and is held for five days from April 1 to 5 every year.
It used to be called “Bugaku-kai” because of the dance and music performed by the children.
The essence of the Hatsukae Festival is considered to be the “chigomai” and “neri”.
It is said that the origin of the dance performance is that when Lord Tokugawa Ieyasu visited the Kannon Festival at Takyo Temple during his stay at Sunpu Castle, he was pleased with the dance performed by the children, and dedicated it to the Sengen Shrine on the 20th of February to pray for peace and good harvest.
Currently, “Furihoko,” “Nasori,” “Anma,” “Kanjogaku,” and “Taiheigaku” are performed as part of the children’s dance and music, and are designated as Intangible folk cultural assets by the government.。
The Chigomai, which has been handed down through the ages, is usually dedicated on April 5.
The Chigomai is performed on February 20th of the lunar calendar at the Shizuoka Sengen Shrine’s annual Hatsukae Festival (Old Okaishiki), which is now held on April 5th.
When the children arrive at the shrine after parading around the city with the parade of parishioners (neri = floats), a grand festival is held and the Chigomai is dedicated.
At 11:00 a.m. on April 5, every other year, a procession of young children riding palanquins will depart from Ikazuchi Shrine in Shichiken-cho or Ogushi Shrine in Konya-cho, accompanied by floats.When we arrived at the shrine at noon, we were greeted by the children, who performed a parade and entertainment.Around 3:30 p.m., the children’s dance and music will be performed at the Buden.
It is also a valuable folk performing art and is designated as an intangible folk cultural asset by Shizuoka Prefecture.
It has a long history, and it is written in the “Record of Lord Kototsugu” that Yamashina Kototsugu, a nobleman of the Warring States period, watched the Chigomai.
In September 1556, Kototsugu visited his aunt-in-law, Jugei-ni (the mother of Imagawa Yoshimoto).He stayed in Sunpu for six months until March of the following year.There is a record that on February 22, the 3rd year of the reign of Koji, he received a gift of sake and snacks from Jukei-ni and observed a children’s dance at Sengen Shrine.
The Chigomai was handed down from Takyo Temple (abandoned in the beginning of the Meiji era), which was located in Takyo, Aoi Ku, Shizuoka City, and it was customary to go to Sengen Shrine from Takyo Temple to dedicate the dance.
Takyo Temple was built in the 13th year of the Hakuho Era (684) as the family temple of the Hata Clan, and Shizuhata Shrine, which enshrined the deity of the Hata Clan, was located at Sengen Shrine.
Today, it is famous as the Chigomai dedicated to Ieyasu Tokugawa, but it had declined with the fall of the Imagawa family during the Warring States period, but when Ieyasu entered the castle in Sunpu as a great lord, he followed the precedent and restored the dedication from Takyo Temple.
From then on, the children who performed this dance were selected from the children of shogunate officials, and the procession of children from Takyo Temple to Sengen Shrine was guarded by yoriki and doshin, and was given the status of a daimyo procession (equivalent to 100,000 koku).
In addition, officials such as Kaban erected high-hanging lanterns to guard the outer moat of Sunpu Castle, and under the patronage of the Edo Shogunate, the event was held in a grand manner.
It is said that when the dance was over, the cherry blossoms and mountain ashes were carried to the Edo Castle by a ferryman to report the end of the dance as a “Hanaosame Ceremony”.