Weird Japanese Festivals – The Scarecrow Festival

Japan is a really diverse country; especially for one so homogeneous when it comes to the population. This is partly due to the island nature of the country, and partially due to the oppressive rule of the shogunate that lasted from 1192-1860-ish. This restricted the movement of commoners, so different prefectures developed a lot of local customs.

Also, they are a weird bunch of people to begin with.

Due to this, there are a number of local celebrations that seem to have a long history in that region, but are practically unheard of elsewhere.

You never really hear about these unless you happen to chance across them, or if somehow the local tourist agency has put an ad in a guidebook.

Luckily, my father-in-law was a truck driver in Kyushu (the main southern island) for 40 years, meaning that he has stumbled across a lot of these local celebrations. He will then take us unannounced to them, and some of them are pretty awesome.

One of them is the Scarecrow festival at the start of Spring, which I guess has something to do with needing scarecrows or something.

But in a field in the middle of the mountains, you suddenly see a lively festival, with horses, farmers, children, and a large traditional dance.

Except they aren’t moving.

The scarecrows take up two sides of a riverbank, and it’s like the whole town has been hit by some kind of super weapon.

There is very little traffic, so the festival is nearly dead silent. You can walk through the crowd and get lost very easily. Honestly, when you see another real human it freaks you the heck out, as your mind thinks that that scarecrows are coming to life.

The festival is around the start of April, and held in Miyajidake near Kumamoto (宮地岳、熊本県 for those of you looking for the Japanese name).

 

 

 

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