The Takaoka Mikurumayama Matsuri, which is held annually at the end of April in the city of Takaoka and involves the parade by seven sumptuously decorated floats around the old part of the city, was listed as one of UNESCO’s intangible cultural assets on December 1st, 2016.
It is said that Maeda Toshiie, the first lord of the Kaga Domain, was bestowed with the same court carriage used by the powerful daimyo, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, to greet Emperor Go-Yozei upon his Imperial visit to the Jurakutei Palace in Kyoto in 1588.
Maeda Toshinaga, the second lord of the Kaga Domain and founder of Takaoka, later presented this carriage to the townspeople of Takaoka around the time of the construction of Takaoka Castle in 1609. Thus, the history of Takaoka’s Mikurumayama floats was born.
The Mikurumayama floats are considered one of the finest floats of this kind in all of Japan – noted for their unique court carriage structure, as well as for their elaborate ornamental work, crafted using Takaoka’s most exquisite artisanal skills in the fields of metalwork, lacquerwork, and tapestry work.
Each of the town’s seven boroughs has their own Mikurumayama, which features a distinct decoration on top known as the Hokodome. The Hokodome each boast different shapes, depicting things like butterflies, bells called Gokorei, and roosters.
Meanwhile, the Happi jackets worn as costumes by the float pullers, just like the Hokodome, also represent each borough with designs of dragons, wheels and red snappers.
Some of the floats have a platform for kids to sit on. Only boys are allowed to board the floats, and only the ones belonging to the families of the owners.
One of the highlights of the parade is seeing the floats, which weigh several tonnes, being bodily lifted around corners, which is done to the beat of the float leader – and to the applause of cheers of the crowd!
Give that its one of this part of Japan’s major festivals, it not surprising that it was very crowded – although it hardly didn’t happen at all, as we had woken up that morning to pouring rain! Luckily, my noon, the clouds had cleared, allowing the festival to go ahead, albeit, slightly truncated.
Sadly, though, once again, very few signs of foreign tourists…
Total number of foreign tourists attending apart from me: less than a dozen.