Three local festivals that illuminate and celebrate Oita’s famous bamboo
Oita Prefecture is japan‘s number one producer of madake, or Japanese timber bamboo. This natural resource has become an integral part of the local culture, and as a result, many festivals and events in the area revolve around the use of bamboo. Three such festivals that showcase the beauty and versatility of bamboo are Usuki Takeyoi, Taketa Chikuraku, and Sen’nen-Akari.
Usuki Takeyoi is a festival held in Usuki City during the first week of November. The festival is a celebration of Princess Hannyahime, a local legend who is said to have guided the soul of Princess Hannyahime to her parents. One of the highlights of the festival is the lighting of bamboo lanterns, which are used to guide the princess’s soul. The lanterns are made by local craftspeople using bamboo that has been cut from the mountains. The process of making the lanterns begins in August and involves the entire community, including local schools, businesses, and the local government. The lanterns are not only functional but also works of art, with intricate designs and patterns carved into the bamboo. When the lanterns are lit, they create a mesmerizing display of light and shadow, illuminating the narrow streets of Usuki City.
Taketa Chikuraku is another festival that takes place in November, specifically in the castle town of Taketa. This festival is known for its spectacular display of bamboo lanterns, with over 20,000 lanterns lighting up the town. The festival lasts for three days and attracts visitors from all over Japan. The lanterns are carefully placed in strategic locations throughout the town, creating a magical atmosphere. The moment when the lanterns are lit around sunset is particularly breathtaking, as the colors of the lanterns come alive against the backdrop of the darkening sky. The festival also features various cultural events and performances, showcasing the rich heritage of the region.
Sen’nen-Akari is a festival held in Hita City, where the Kagetsu River runs through the town. This festival is known for its stunning display of bamboo lanterns, with around 30,000 lanterns lighting up the river. The lanterns are placed along the riverbanks and bridges, creating a mesmerizing scene that is reflected in the water. The festival also includes various events and activities, such as traditional music and dance performances, food stalls, and fireworks. The combination of the lanterns, the river, and the vibrant atmosphere of the festival makes Sen’nen-Akari a must-see event for anyone visiting Oita in November.
These three festivals not only showcase the beauty of bamboo but also highlight the strong sense of community and cultural heritage in Oita Prefecture. The use of bamboo in these festivals is not just for aesthetic purposes but also serves as a symbol of the region’s identity and connection to nature. The festivals bring together people from all walks of life, fostering a sense of unity and pride in the local culture.
In addition to the festivals themselves, Oita Prefecture offers a range of other attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. The region is known for its hot springs, with numerous onsens scattered throughout the area. These natural hot springs provide a relaxing and rejuvenating experience, allowing visitors to soak in the healing waters while surrounded by the beauty of nature. Oita is also home to several historical and cultural sites, including ancient temples, traditional wooden houses, and samurai residences. Exploring these sites offers a glimpse into the rich history and heritage of the region.
When it comes to food, Oita Prefecture is famous for its delicious cuisine, which often incorporates local ingredients and flavors. One of the must-try dishes in the region is toriten, a type of tempura made from chicken. The chicken is marinated in a special sauce and then coated in a light batter before being deep-fried to perfection. Another local specialty is kabosu, a citrus fruit that is similar to yuzu. Kabosu is used to add a refreshing and tangy flavor to various dishes, including sashimi, salads, and soups. Oita is also known for its high-quality wagyu beef, which is renowned for its tenderness and rich marbling.
In terms of accommodation, Oita Prefecture offers a range of options to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. From luxury resorts and ryokans to budget-friendly guesthouses and hotels, there is something for everyone. Staying in a traditional ryokan is a unique experience that allows visitors to immerse themselves in Japanese culture. These traditional inns offer tatami-matted rooms, communal baths, and the opportunity to experience kaiseki, a multi-course meal that showcases the finest seasonal ingredients.
Getting to Oita Prefecture is relatively easy, thanks to its well-connected transportation network. The main hub for the festivals is Oita Station, which is served by the Kyudai, Hohi, and Nippo main lines. These train lines provide access to various parts of Kyushu, making it convenient for visitors to explore the region. For those coming from other parts of Japan, Oita Airport offers domestic flights to and from major cities such as Tokyo and Osaka.
In conclusion, the festivals of Usuki Takeyoi, Taketa Chikuraku, and Sen’nen-Akari are not to be missed if you find yourself in Oita Prefecture in November. These events provide a unique opportunity to experience the beauty and cultural significance of bamboo in the region. From the mesmerizing display of lanterns to the vibrant atmosphere and sense of community, these festivals capture the essence of Oita’s rich heritage. Combined with the region’s natural beauty, hot springs, delicious cuisine, and welcoming hospitality, a visit to Oita Prefecture promises to be a memorable and enriching experience.
Address And Maps Location:
Kaizoe, Usuki-shi, Oita-ken