Tejikara Fire Festival Gifu
The Tejikara Fire Festival is an annual event held every second Sunday in August along the banks of the Nagara River in Gifu. Miniature shrines are carried by men wearing only loincloths underneath a curtain of fireworks falling from 20 meters above. The festival is also held on the second Saturday in April at the Tejikara Shrine and has a history of more than 300 years. It certainly is one of the more spectacular festivals in Japan with all the fire, sparks and gunpowder.
Some Aspects of the Tejikara Fire Festival
Festival Floats (Mikoshi)
The main event of the Tejikara Fire Festival is the festival floats carried by men on their shoulders under a curtain of fireworks. This year’s floats included the Nagaragawa Ukai mascot, Prince Shotoku, Saka-daru (sake barrel), Cars, Chopper from One Piece, an Egyptian Pharaoh and a Deco-tora (decoration truck). The gunpowder stashed away in the floats is ignited by the sparks from the fireworks causing spectacular explosions, and long streams of fire to shoot high into the sky from the floats. The men carrying the festival floats dance wildly with the sound of ringing bells and firecrackers. It is an amazing celebration of both sound and fire and a must see!
Standing Lanterns (Gohei Andon)
The Gohei Andon or Standing Lanterns are hung 20 meters above the ground on bamboo poles. Each pole represents a different neighbourhood in Gifu City and people from that area participate in the performance. The candles inside the paper lanterns are lit one by one by a rocket like flame that is shot off at the lanterns. It is a very spectacular lighting of the lanterns with an explosion of sparks and lights. There is a tradition that the year will be rich in harvest if the lanterns can be lit without any trouble.
Hand-held Fireworks (Tedutsu Hanabi)
The hand-held fireworks called Tedutsu Hanabi in Japanese are set off by the festival participants. The grand finale is a spectacular waterfall of hand-held fireworks by the festival participants from a tower.
As with any festival in Japan at the Tejikara Fireworks Festival there are also many street vendors selling all kinds of festival food and snacks. This includes favourites like yakisoba, takoyaki and kakigori.
Make sure you get there early to reserve your spot and beat the crowds. We arrived at around 5 p.m. and could get a nice spot right in front of the standing lanterns.
Information for the Tejikara Fireworks Festival
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Mount Fuji UNESCO World Heritage Site
Mount Fuji was officially named a UNESCO World Heritage Site on June 22nd 2013. Mount Fuji or Fuji-san as it is known in Japan is the country’s highest peak at 3776 meters and straddles both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures. It lies about 100 kilometres south-west of Tokyo and is visible from both Tokyo and Yokohama on a clear day. Mount Fuji is a visually beautiful mountain with its perfect symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months of the year. It is a national symbol of Japan and has long been viewed as a sacred site which has nurtured the unique culture of Japan. Over the years it has inspired many great Japanese artists and writers. Mount Fuji was designated a “cultural” site rather than a “natural” site by the UNESCO committee and is registered under the title “Mount Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art”.
Mount Fuji becomes Japan’s 17th World Heritage site and joins other icons such as Horyuji Temple, Todaiji Temple, Kiyomizu-dera, Kinkakuji Temple, and Nijo Castle.
The formal announcement is expected to greatly increase the tourist numbers to this popular destination. More and more people will want to climb the mountain now that it has obtained World Heritage status, and it could become the next great destination in Asia. The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is from July 1st to August 31st.
The mountain is divided into 10 stations from the base (first station) to the summit (tenth station). Most climbers start from the fifth station, where there are four major routes to the summit of the mountain. From the fifth station it usually takes 5-6 hours to reach the top.
Note: There will be a 1000 yen climbing fee starting summer 2014.
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Ajisai Matsuri in Itadori Village, Gifu
Every season in Japan has a distinct flower to celebrate and June is no exception with the beautiful ajisai (hydrangeas) in bloom during the rainy season. The Hydrangeas can be enjoyed from June until early July here in the Chubu area of Japan with many ajisai matsuri or festivals taking place. Just like the ume (plum blossom) and sakura (cherry blossom) in spring, the ajisai (hydrangea) during the rainy season (tsuyu) is a symbol of June and is part of the culture and seasonal celebrations in Japan. The blooming of the ajisai is dependent on the length of the rainy season, so dates vary slightly from year to year.
The ajisai are very beautiful and come in wonderful shades of blue and purple as well white and pink. Every June, Itadori Village, in Gifu holds an Ajisai Matsuri. Located in the mountains of Gifu in the Mugi District, which is now part of Seki City, the whole area is filled with this beautiful flower, which can be seen as you wind your way up the mountains. It is a beautiful escape from the city and the temperatures are always a few degrees cooler up in the mountains.
The Ajisai Matsuri starts at the Ajisai Mura (village) where there are many beautiful hydrangeas to be enjoyed as well as the backdrop of stunning mountains and the Itadori River.
Lining the Itadori River is the “Hydrangea Road”, which is a 24 kilometer-long stretch of road that contains around 7,000 hydrangea of various colours, that can be seen adorning the side of the road. The whole area has about 10,000 hydrangea flowers and when at full bloom paint a pretty picture. The majority of the hydrangea flowers in this area are a deep purple or blue which is due to an acidic or low pH in the soil causing blueness in the hydrangea.
This year the Ajisai Matsuri was from June 22th to July 15th with the peak around June 30th.
- Date: June 22 – July 15
- Location: Itadori Village, Seki City, Gifu Prefecture
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