Ikibina Matsuri

On April 3rd, the village of Miya, just south of Central Takayama City, hold a festival called Ikibina Matsuri, or, The Living Doll Festival. I didn't really know anything about this festival beforehand. I heard about it from my friend Ikuko, who was very interested in it, and wanted to visit and attend. So, she did, and we went!

Hina Matsuri

The Ikibina Matsuri is a regional version of the Hina Matsuri. The Hina Matsuri takes place on March 3rd, and celebrate's Girl's Day, or, sometimes, Doll's Day. For Hina Matsuri, families will cover shelves with a red carpet and display dolls on them. Many people associate this holiday with the beginning of Spring, and the start of warmer days ahead.

But, for the Hida Takayama area, Winter is still very strong, and the snow doesn't start melting for another month, at least.

For Hina Matsuri, I went to the Hida Folk Village in town, or Hida no Sato. This village is a half-preserved, half-recreated area from a few hundred years ago. All the homes represent the style of architecture at the time.

As you can see, it was still very much Winter on March 3rd up here. There's no hint of Spring at all.



But, they still displayed all the dolls in the houses. Spring will come eventually!

Ikibina Matsuri

Since it's still Winter on March 3rd, the Hida Takayama area waits for one month, and has their own celebration on April 3rd, instead. And rather than arranging a bunch of dolls on a red-carpeted display, young women and kids from the surrounding towns wear the outfits of the dolls, and parade around town.

Ikuko and I arrived in Miya around 10am. All of the snow in the area had melted, but it was still rather cold and miserable.


It rained almost all day. :( Usually, the parade will begin at the shrine, and continue down the street, along the river. Then cross the river, and come back to the shrine. Since it was raining, they restricted the parade to inside of the shrine, instead.


So, all of the people that came to watch the parade were shoved inside of the Ichinomiya Minasha Shrine. The parade started on one end of the shrine, and all the women and kids moved around the hallways bordering the area.





The parade has several princesses dressed in pink, some kids, guards, a king and a queen. The went around the inside of the shrine a few times. When the parade was finished all of the cast enters the shrine to pray.



So, when I first came to Takayama, I went around to a bunch of the touristy places in town. I kept seeing all these anime posters on the walls of stores, and museums. They were all for the same anime, and they advertised Takayama. So, upon further inspection, these posters mentioned a title: Hyouka. Later, I looked it up on the Internet, and not only is it an anime, but the whole takes place in Takayama.

The anime centers on 4 high school students that go to Hida High School, a few blocks away from where I live. :) Many locations in town are represented almost perfectly in the show, so it was really neat to watch that show when I first arrived. Some of it was like an introduction video. :)

Overall, the show is OK. It's not the best anime, but it doesn't suck. The plot of the show centers are 4 high school students as they revive a literary club at the school, and then solve mysteries, instead.

I bring this up because for the final episode of the TV show, the main girl character, Eru Chitanda plays the lead in the Ikibina Matsuri. So, the whole episode focuses on the festival, and a dumb mystery to solve.

Because of how accurate Hyouka represents areas in Takayama, the festival and the Ichinomiya Minasha Shrine was depicted rather well.

Here's a shot from the TV Show:


And here's a photo I took:


They're pretty close :)



That's the inside of the Shrine and the outside.

Satomi Satou

Eru Chitanda is voiced by Satomi Satou, who apparently a big deal since he also voiced a character in K-On, which is very popular. She announced that she will be coming to this festival, too, which made all the nerds come out of the woodwork. Also, Hyouka began airing in Fall 2012, so this is the first time after the show began that the festival has been held.

With the combination of these two things, Shit Loads! of people were in attendance this year.


After the parade, every one in attendance exited the Shrine area and gathered outside.


After waiting around for 20 minutes, the producer of Hyouka (I think), and the voice actress, Satomi Satou, took the stage and started talking about... whatever. It was a standard boring interview anyway.



Mochi Throwing

The traditional end of the festival brings the cast of the parade on stage. They say some words, thank everyone for attending, and then throw some packaged mochi to everyone in the audience.




Overall, the festival was OK. Maybe it would've been more interesting if the weather cooperated, but I still had a good time.

Images (29)