One of three greatest boat festivals in Japan, and held once every 10 years
Around 370 years ago, during a time of feudal Japan, the Izumo province was struck with bad weather which lead to a bad harvest that threatened the region with famine. The lord of the domain at the time, Matsudaira Naomasa, then decided to take the deity by boat from the Jozan-Inari Shrine behind Matsue Castle to Adakaya Shrine on the outskirts of the city in order to pray for a good harvest. That year was Shōhō 4 or 1647 according to the Gregorian calendar and since then the tradition has been continued every 10 or 12 years.
Currently, the festival is known as one of three big boat festivals in Japan, where the procession of boats involved total to about 100 boats, but it didn’t always involve that many boats. It wasn’t until 1808 when stormy conditions threatened the festival that local fishermen from the Makata village became involved in escorting the boats safely to the shrine. And since then it became a tradition to have these “kaidenma” boats help with the escorting, and four other villages (Yada, Ooi, Fukutomi, Oomisaki) also joined in the ceremony as well.
The ceremony encompasses a total of nine days and is split up into three main parts; “Togyosai” Transfer Festival, “Chuunichisai” Middle Day Festival, “Kangyosai” Return Festival. This is the schedule from the last festival in 2019:
“Togyosai” Transfer Festival
May 18, 2019 (Sat)
“Chunichisai” Middle Day Festival
May 22, 2019 (Wed.)
“Kangyosai” Return Festival
May 26, 2019 (Sun.)
Visit the Horan-Enya Memorial Hall Museum if you want to learn more about the festival and the history of the past festivals.
*The next Horan-enya is scheduled for 2029