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Shirakawa Junior High School

Rehearsals and Performances

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During the Doburoku Festival, the children perform cockfight dances, Shinto dances for shrine maidens, lion dances, and folk songs. The rehearsals start about a month before the festival. Every evening around seven o'clock, the adults and children gather in the community center and other locations and work hard to learn the movements. Rehearsals continue through the day before the festival.

Doburoku Festival

Early on the morning of October 14, at 4 a.m., a group of young people walk around the village playing bamboo flutes, beating drums, and shouting "It's festival day!" The event has officially begun. At 8 a.m., the adults and children taking part in the procession assemble in the main hall of Shirakawa Hachiman Shrine, where they undergo a purification rite performed by Shinto priests. Just after 9 a.m., the procession sets out for the village.

At the head of the line are a red ogre and a green ogre, followed by adults carrying five-colored banners and clad in a straw hat, kimono, and a short coat bearing their family crest. Following them comes the portable shrine with the Shinto priests and guardian deity, the lion dance and cockfight dance performers, the musicians, and the shrine maiden dancers. This procession, which stretches for 200 meters, slowly winds around the village and Gassho-style houses.

Doburoku Festival

Doburoku Festival

The families of the village prepare for the arrival of the guardian deity with offerings of rice, vegetables, and other foods. When the priests arrive, the family respectfully shows them to the room containing the family's Buddhist altar. Outside, the lion dance performers spiritedly move to the beat of traditional instruments and drums.

After circling the village, the procession returns to the shrine. At 3:30 p.m., the sake is removed from the storehouse during the doburoku rite, purified in a ceremony by the priests, and handed out to the shrine's visitors.

Later on, at 7:30 p.m., a bonfire is lit and the lion dance and folksongs are performed. The children keep on dancing, and the festivities continue until around 9 p.m.

The second day of the festival is much like the first, with a procession around the village and various events and rites at the shrine.