Softly and Elegantly  ”Owara kaze no Bon Festival”

Softly and Elegantly
”Owara kaze no Bon Festival”

Traditional Festival

The traditional festival of Yao town of Toyama Prefecture takes place every year from the 1st to the 3rd of September. Dancers go around the town on the melancholic melody of Ecchu Owara Bushi It has been featured in novels, TV drama, popular music, and has become famous, currently gathering more than 200 thousand tourists every year. Performers play their instruments, shamisen and kokyu to play the Owara Bushi melodies while ladies donned in kimonos and braided bamboo hats perform their graceful dances. At night, the town lights are turned on and light up the people that walk through the mountain village, creating a fantasy-like view. Nakata was able to hear and see actual Echhu Owara Bushi and the dances and also was granted the opportunity of playing the kokyu. He was able to directly get in contact with this traditional event that had started in the Edo period.

The Name of the Festival

There are many theories as to where the word ”Owara” derives from. One theory is that it comes from the word ”Oowara” praying for abundant harvest, or that it comes from the word ”Owara village” where young girls from Owara sang songs, but the strongest theory is that it derives from the word ”Oowarai” lots of laughter, which came up frequently in poetic songs of 5 and 7 syllables. On the other hand the origin of ”Kaze no bon” too is unclear. In Toyama, people had always referred to weekends and holidays as ”bon”. The seeding period would be seeding bon, and then there are planting bon, raining bon, many other types of ”bon”. Festive periods often collided with stormy season and thus people prayed for safety from storm damage and took days off, that were called ”kaze no (the wind’s) bon” . An annual festival that takes place quietly in a village in the mountains. The dancers and musicians alike display graceful performance. The music was heard continuing on well into midnight . (Note: Interviewed in the summer of 2010)


Owara kaze no Bon
Yaomachi Toyama, Toyama Prefecture