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Goin’ Japanesque!

A Mystical May Festival That Lets You Experience Japanese Tradition: Fox’s Wedding Parade

How many tales of Japanese folklore do you know? Japan has many mysterious stories from the Muromachi Period and the Edo Period that have been passed down the generations. Among such stories, today, we introduce a tale related to kitsune, or the fox. It is said that in the old times, foxes lived in the Kirinzan, Tsugawa District of Niigata Prefecture and that there were many sightings of a light called the kitsune-bi (fox-fire). It is even said that the number of kitsune-bi sightings of this district is number 1 in the world.

 

kitsune-bi (fox-fire)

(狐火)

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This is the kitsune-bi. In Japan, foxes are said to be animals with power over fire.

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Foxes are very popular. Even in modern times they are often depicted as characters in anime, manga and games. You can see that the kitsune-bi is depicted here as well.

 

Fox’s Wedding Parade

(Kitsune no Yomeiri Gyoretsu) (狐の嫁入り行列)

In this district where foxes were often seen, weddings in the old times were held from dusk to night. People formed a line and walked with lanterns in their hands. The sight of foxes walking alongside them was viewed as the kitsune-bi. This then became a large event involving the entire town and was passed on. Now, the scale of the event has grown so large that there are tens of thousands of tourists visit the event.

1. Departure (17:00 ~)

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http://4travel.jp/

It is now the departure of the bride dressed as a fox. Where is her final destination? From here, they will spend a few hours walking through the town to the final destination. Can you see the fox-like gestures? (the hands)

2. Dressing Up

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A huge number of people crowd around the parade. Even regular visitors are able to participate with fox-like make up and ears. This is not only a sight to see but an event you can actually experience so it’s very exciting!

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We found a group of foreign tourists! They are enjoying an ancient Japanese tradition and a modern event all at once. It seems they are really having fun!

3. The Local Children

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Local elementary school children participate dressed in white Japanese costume. It is a wonderful festival that fosters communication among children and adults.

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Wow, what a tough job the guy with the red umbrella has, lol

4. Dusk

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The lanterns have been lit. The sun is starting to sink but the event still continues. Are we there yet…?

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The fox sculptures also seem to be celebrating the new chapter in the bride’s life.

5. The Wedding Hall

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They are finally at destination! It is a wedding hall that is built outdoors! Here they will exchange their nuptial cups.

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The Japanese drums sounding high bring about a lot of excitement for this celebratory day!

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Once the ceremony is over, they depart yet again. Where to now?

6. The finale

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The finale takes place in the Kirinzan where it has been said to be many kitsune-bi sightings in the old times. On a small boat, they glide above the waters heading for the gleaming torii gate that stands at the entrance of the Kirinzan. The bride goes through the torii and disappears deep into the mountains. This signals the mystical end of this festival. 

The fox’s wedding is an event that lets you experience a different taste from the kind of events that are held in Tokyo nowadays. It is held on May 3rd every year. Definitely go and experience the fox-makeup for yourself!

 

Information: Tsugawa Kitsune no Yomeiri Gyoretsu

Place: Kirinzan Park (麒麟山公園), Tsugawa District of Niigata Prefecture
Dates: May 3, 10:00 ~ 21:00
Phone: 0254-92-4766
Price: Free (make up: 300 yen ~ 600 yen)

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