A lively celebration of the dead, with umbrella dances and bells ringing
Tottori City’s Shanshan Festival, held in mid-August, is a vibrant and colorful event that is part of the area’s Obon celebrations. Obon is a traditional Japanese Buddhist custom of honoring and paying respect to the spirits of one’s ancestors. During this time, people from all over japan return to their hometowns to clean and maintain their family graves, as well as participate in various ceremonies and rituals. These activities are typically somber and reflective in nature, but the Shanshan Festival offers a unique and lively twist to the traditional Obon festivities.
The Shanshan Festival is a major highlight of Tottori City’s summer calendar, attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike. The festival takes place right outside of Tottori Station, making it easily accessible for everyone. The city’s streets come alive with a colorful parade, filled with participants and spectators. The parade is a sight to behold, with vibrant costumes, traditional music, and, most notably, the umbrella dances.
The umbrella dances, known as kasa-odori or Suzukko-odori, are the main highlight of the Shanshan Festival. The name “shan shan” refers to the sound of boiling water or ringing bells. During the dances, participants hold large decorative paper umbrellas adorned with small bells. As they move and dance to the rhythm of the music, the umbrellas are shaken, creating a mesmerizing spectacle of sights and sounds. Legend has it that the tradition of the umbrella dances originated in the nearby town of Kokufu, where an old man danced with an umbrella during a long drought, and the drought ended on the day he passed away.
The Shanshan Festival is not only a celebration of the spirits of the ancestors but also a festive gathering that brings the community together. It is a time for family, friends, and neighbors to come together, reconnect, and enjoy each other’s company. The festival creates a lively and joyous atmosphere, as people young and old join in the festivities. The streets are filled with laughter, music, and the sound of bells ringing, creating a vibrant and energetic ambiance.
In addition to the umbrella dances, the Shanshan Festival also features various other attractions and activities. Food stalls line the streets, offering a wide array of delicious local delicacies and treats. Visitors can indulge in traditional Japanese street food such as takoyaki (octopus balls), yakisoba (fried noodles), and taiyaki (fish-shaped pastries filled with sweet red bean paste). There are also games and carnival rides for children, creating a fun-filled experience for the whole family.
The Shanshan Festival is not just a local event; it is also a significant cultural and historical tradition that has been passed down through generations. It serves as a reminder of the importance of honoring and remembering one’s ancestors and the values they instilled in their descendants. The festival provides a unique opportunity for locals and visitors to learn about and experience the rich cultural heritage of Tottori City and its surrounding areas.
To attend the Shanshan Festival, one can easily reach Tottori City by train. The Super Hakuto Express, which operates from Osaka or Kyoto, offers a convenient and comfortable option for travelers. The journey takes approximately two and a half to three hours, allowing visitors to arrive in Tottori City in a relatively short amount of time. Once at Tottori Station, the festival venue is just a short walk away, making it easily accessible for everyone.
In recent years, the Shanshan Festival has gained popularity and recognition both within Japan and internationally. It has become a major tourist attraction, drawing visitors from all over the world. The festival’s unique blend of tradition, culture, and lively entertainment has captivated the hearts and minds of people from different backgrounds and walks of life. It is a testament to the power of cultural festivals in promoting understanding, appreciation, and unity among diverse communities.
In conclusion, the Shanshan Festival in Tottori City is a vibrant and lively celebration that adds a joyful twist to the traditional Obon festivities. The umbrella dances, with their colorful costumes and ringing bells, create a mesmerizing spectacle that captivates both participants and spectators. The festival brings the community together, fostering a sense of unity and connection among people of all ages and backgrounds. It is not only a time to honor and remember the spirits of the ancestors but also a time to celebrate life and create lasting memories. The Shanshan Festival is a must-see event for anyone visiting Tottori City, offering a unique and unforgettable cultural experience.
Address And Maps Location:
111 Higashihonji-cho, Tottori-shi, Tottori-ken