Things to do in Tochigi City: Experience an autumn festival celebrated since 1874
Get on the Tobu Railway at Asakusa in the Shitamachi area of Tokyo and you are around 70 minutes away from Tochigi City, Tochigi Prefecture. Also known as Little Edo, the city has preserved its old Japanese townscape and culture shaped by maritime transport. This year is for the biannual Tochigi Autumn Festival. Take this opportunity to see the gorgeously decorated and moving dashi floats. We present to you Tochigi City, where you can experience Japanese history and culture.
A Series of Spectacular Dashi Floats that Magically Appear in the Dark–Tochigi Autumn Festival– Autumn Festival on November 9 to 11, 2018
Tochigi Autumn Festival began in 1874, when people paraded with dashi floats to honor Emperor Jinmu during a ceremony held on the premises of the prefectural office (located in former Tochigi Town, currently Tochigi City).
The dashi floats used during festivals are called edogata ningyo dashi, because they were originally produced in the Edo period. Soon the entire town started to compete by showcasing dashi floats of Shizuka Gozen during Tenka Matsuri (Edo Sanno Festival) and other dashi floats featuring dolls produced by skillful doll makers, such as Shugetsu Hara III.
The dolls used for Edogata ningyo dashi vary, but mainly feature gods and heroes that appeared in Kojiki and Nihon-shoki (Japan’s old historical records) or great figures and heroes from China. They also symbolize folk beliefs and legends.
One of the festival’s highlights is buttuke, where multiple dashi floats face off by playing ohayashi, festival music, which is initiated by the call of each leader. All carriers brandish lanterns above their heads and shout to enliven the music. It is customary for dashi floats with out-of-tune ohayashi to concede. The invigorating calls are also unique, representing each town. Join in and shout to your heart’s content.
The evening parade offers a chance to view a magical world thanks to the lanterns that illuminate each dashi float. In the dark, they are simply breathtaking and will look great in pictures!
Buttuke during the daytime parade
Gorgeously decorated dashi floats during the daytime parade
Row of dashi floats during the evening parade
Immerse Yourself in the Festival’s Spectacle: Dashi Kaikan
Dashi Kaikan reconstructs scenes from the biannual Tochigi Autumn Festival through installations produced with digital technologies and actual dashi floats, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the festival’s spectacle and appreciate the beauty of dashi floats.
Dashi Kaikan was founded in 1995 and also stores dashi floats, which are tangible folk cultural properties designated by Tochigi Prefecture. Three dashi floats actually used in the Tochigi Autumn Festival are on permanent display for visitors to feel the excitement of the festival at any time.
The dashi floats are rotated on a regular basis to allow visitors to encounter different gorgeously decorated and moving dashi floats every time they visit.
Immerse yourself in old Japanese culture in the recently updated Dashi Kaikan, where friendly staff members await.
Doll on exhibition,moving Hideyoshi Toyotomi
Traditional Japanese Style Accommodation Featuring Storehouses, Tatami Mats and Fusuma Screens, Where You Can Also Enjoy Japanese Cuisine: Kanahan Ryokan
Kanahan Ryokan is located on Kuranomachi Promenade and is a historic inn established in the Anei era (1764-1780), during the Edo period. The members of the Kaninnomiya family stayed here in the past. There is also an anecdote about Isabella Bird, a traveler from England, who stayed in this historic inn.
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Storehouses and buildings with an old-fashioned atmosphere can be found on the premises. The hallway where the original storehouses still remain will make you feel like you have time traveled to 200 years ago! Relax while immersing yourself in the nostalgic atmosphere characteristic of a venerable Japanese location. The meals, including Edo Gozen, are prepared with local Tochigi produce and ingredients once used in the Edo period and presented in a modern style.
They are inexpensive, yet allow you to fully appreciate Japanese cuisine. If you have any dietary restrictions, mention them when making your reservation. They can serve you meals according to your preferences due to allergy or religious faith. You can also stay overnight without meals.
This is a historic and classy inn, but it is also a place where you can visit casually and feel peace of mind while being healed thanks to its landlady with a friendly smile. Take a picture with her to remember your trip!
Kanahan Ryokan’s website is available in English, Chinese and Korean. Click below for more details!
Front of Kanahan Ryokan, which also serves meals
The premises where storehouses still remain take you back 200 years!
Reserve this historic room, built in 1918, if it is available!
Exceptional accommodation and meals. Kanahan Ryokan ensures your stay is comfortable, while the smile of the landlady also offers comfort after traveling.
Edo Gozen prepared with local Tochigi produce If you have any dietary restrictions, mention them when making your reservation.
Fully Enjoy Colorful Japanese Paper: Kezuka Kamiten
Kezuka Kamiten (paper shop) is located on Kuranomachi Promenade near Dashi Kaikan. It operates from one of the five misegura (storehouse consisting of a shop and residence) built in a row, which is even rare in Tochigi, where a number of storehouses remain.
Appreciate how paper evolved in Japanese culture just by holding it in your hands and observing. In addition to customary engagement gifts and gift money envelopes used on celebratory occasions, other traditional items including origami, small articles made of paper and paper balloons can be easily purchased.
Kezuka Kamiten can be found in the center of the rare five misegura built in a row
Play with origami
Uchiwa (traditional fan)
Tochigi’s dashi floats made of paper! Assemble this craft at home to reflect on your journey!
A Japanese tradition, gift money envelopes are ideal souvenirs.
If you want to know more about Tochigi and how to get there as well as other details, visit their official website here.
Not into parades? Here’s a more sedate but equally authentic Japanese town where you can stroll down the street in a kimono eating all the local sweets.
All photos from MyNewsDesk