• Kennan Area
  • Event

Usuki Takeyoi Festival

Photography/TAKEUCHI Yasunori

a Light to Reformation of Satoyama Landscape

 At the beginning of the world, fire belonged to gods. In Greek mythology, since Prometheus gave the fire to humans, we were able to get wisdom and technology, and developed into cultures. The only creature that could control fire is humans. Wherever in the world, fire was considered sacred, and people celebrated fire since the ancient times.
 There are many local traditional fire festivals in Oita Prefecture as well. Kodai, Hashiramatsu, and Mandoro to name a few. Usuki was holding the Stone Buddha Fire Festival. These festivals moved into town from the suburbs in recent years. They are called “Chikutaku” of Taketa, and “Sennen Akari” of Hita. The festival representing all of these fire festivals is the “Usuki Takeyoi Festival.” In Usuki, in order to prevent fire, there was a sign on the stone saying “Castle Town from Here, No Need for a Torch on Your Way” in the outskirts of the town…

 But as the name suggests, Takeyoi (meaning bamboo night) is where lamps made of bamboo light the area around Niouza to Hatcho (8 towns of commerce) around the castle. There are as many as dozens of thousands! The festival started in 1997.
 At first, administrations and companies managed the festival with sponsorship funds, but recently it is run by volunteers among the citizens, from cutting the bamboo out to making the lamps and objects, with organizations like the “Supporter Club.”
 It’s not just about lighting up the city. There is a parade about the Stone Buddha of Usuki and the famous legend of Manano Chouja. Tachibana no Mikoto (who later becomes the Emperor Youmei) comes to know the beauty of the Princess Hannya, a daughter of the millionaire Chouja, goes down to see her and they are married. The prince goes back to the capital and the princess follows after him alone. However, the ship the princess was on gets wrecked to death. The climax of the festival is when we welcome the spirit of the deceased, having a parade of the fallen Princess Hannya and her daughter Princess Tamae from Yasaka Shrine to the Hatcho (the 8 Towns).
 Not only with the Takeyoi Festival, but many places adopt bamboo lamps in order to prevent the desolation of Satoyama landscape, particularly the bamboo forest. In recent years, the bamboo forests in the prefecture have not been well maintained, therefore wildly expanding. Proper thinning is required to manage the forests. The bamboo used to make the lamp are the thinned ones from the forests. The fire festival in the city is filled with the wishes of people to revitalize the region and restore the Satoyama landscape.

“Usuki Takeyoi Festival,” where lamps made of bamboo lights up the area around Niouza to Hatcho (8 towns of commerce) around the castle. The event is mainly operated by volunteers in the community.