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Morioka Sansa Odori
Morioka Sansa Odori began in 1978 as an event integrating the traditional Sansa Odori dance, which has been performed on the outskirts of Morioka City since the feudal era. In 2014, the festival took the world record for the largest simultaneous performance of Japanese taiko drums. The beautiful dance of the dancers and taiko performers, boasting over 10,000 in total (the highest in the world), resonate across Morioka throughout the night.
During the festival, activities start at 6 PM in front of city hall. Ms. Sansa Odori leads the parade with an elegant performance. The festival takes off with the Sansa Odori Big Parade with over 100 groups dancing. Once the parade ends, events are held where you can enjoy dancing in circles with Miss Sansa Odori and other general groups in the parade, and you are free to get involved at any of the areas across the grounds. Sansa instructors will kindly provide instruction on how to perform the dance, so you can enjoy your first time participating in the dance with peace of mind. Furthermore, in the day time traditional Sansa Odori dances passed down from the feudal ages are performed at the plaza in front of the station and at the Morioka Civic Cultural Hall. You can enjoy learning about the differences in structure, costumes, and movement of each region. On the last day, a recreation of the “World’s Biggest Taiko Parade” (commemorating the world record for simultaneously taiko players), and the Daiwa Odori dance are performed as a finale, as the festival is wrapped up in an intense fervor.
Morioka City, Iwate Prefecture
Youkaichi Hanging Hina Doll Festival
Starting in Youkaichi Ward, Ishidoriya Town in Hanamaki City, the Youkaichi Hanging Hina Doll Festival started in 2006, and is known as a signal marking the arrival of spring. Taking place at the Youkaichi Ikiiki Cultural Center, the event is decorated with over 10,000 vividly colored handmade hanging dolls created by the Youkaichi Hanging Doll Appreciation Club.
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Hanging dolls originate from the Edo period, where grandmothers made necessary items for the girls, and began to hang the dolls up instead of expensive hina dolls. Seven red threads are suspended from the ring of a crimson circle. Each string is ornamented with seven small dolls, making for a total of 49. Enjoy the rich expressions, with each one entirely unique, and the dolls’ cute swaying motion. The colorful hanging dolls made by local women fill up the venue, resulting in a splendid, heartwarming spectacle. The hands-on corner is also recommended, as you’ll be able to make your very own original hanging doll as a souvenir.
Hanamaki City, Iwate Prefecture
Mid-February to March 3