In December 2016, the Furukawa Festival, with its Okoshi-Daiko (the Rousing Drum) and Yatai Float Event, was registered on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List. It is a part of the “Yama, Hoko, Yatai Events” that are held in all parts of the country. These are 33 float festivals chosen to represent different regions of Japan.
The Furukawa Festival is held annually on April 19th and 20th. This traditional event is an annual festival of the Ketawakamiya Shrine. It attracts many tourists every year, especially on the night of the 19th when the large drum float, Okoshi-daiko, is paraded through the town by hundreds of half-naked men. The Okoshi-daiko features a large drum played by two men who sit atop it. Fiery battles between Tsuke-daiko (small drum) groups continue until midnight, as each group jostles for position to attach its Tsuke-daiko to the Okoshi-daiko.
The Yatai parade is another highlight of the festival. Nine Yatai floats are ornately decorated with elaborate carvings, and show off their unique craftsmanship. In contrast to the excitement of the Okoshi-daiko event, the Yatai Parade is peaceful and beautiful. The festival is composed of “motion” and “stillness,” a concept that has been passed down for generations and takes on important role in signaling the arrival of spring.
*UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage is designated as globally valued according to “Regulations on Intangible Cultural Preservation.”