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Japan Heritage festivals and traditional performing arts that depict whaling culture

Japan Heritage “Living with Whales” Area Map

*Electronic topographical map data (tiles) published by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan have been used with the permission of the Director-General of that organization (approval number: 2016 No. 647).

Mifune Sacred Boat Ritual, Kochi-matsuri Festival

Information

  • Date(s):Fourth Saturday and Sunday in July
  • Location:Kochi Island and others MAP A2

The shrine continues to hold traditional events celebrating whales, and the gorgeous main shrine has been designated as a Cultural Property by the Town of Taiji.

Miwasaki Whale Dance

Information

  • Date(s):Mid September
  • Location:Miwasaki Fishing Port MAP B2

The Whale Dance consists of the Denchu Dance, which represents the capture of a whale in a net, and the Aya Dance, which recreates the harpooning of a whale. The dance has been designated as an Intangible Folk-cultural Property by Wakayama Prefecture.

Taiji Whale Dance

Information

  • Date(s):First Sunday in November
  • Location:Location: Taiji Fishing Port MAP C4

The Whale Dance consists of the Aya Dance, in which participants pretend decorative rods are harpoons, and the Fish Dance, in which participants catch a whale. The dance has been designated as an Intangible Folk-cultural Property by Wakayama Prefecture.

Shiogama-jinja Shrine Semi Right Whale Ritual

Information

  • Date(s):Second Sunday in January
  • Location:Shiogama-jinja Shrine MAP A2

Running, white-clad children pluck a straw whale, or semi, from a target.

Hamanomiya Shrine Archery Ritual

Information

  • Date(s):Saturday immediately before February 14
  • Location:Kumano Sansho-omiwasha Shrine MAP B1

A festival at Kumano Sansho-omiwasha Shrine. The decorative part of the target is called a semi.

Archery Ritual at Asuka-jinja Shrine

Information

  • Date(s):January 13
  • Location:Asuka-jinja Shrine MAP C4

Participants in this Shinto ritual pray for safety at sea and a bountiful catch of fish. Attendees compete to grab lucky wooden charms made in the image of right whales.

Isana Festival

Information

  • Date(s):August 14
  • Location:Taiji Fishing Port MAP C4

The festival recreates the net-and-harpoon method of whaling practiced in Taiji Bay with a model of a whale that’s about 9 meters long and a chase boat whose role is to drive the whale into the net.

Annual Festival at Asuka-jinja Shrine

Information

  • Date(s):The three-day weekend on which Sport and Health Day falls in October
  • Location:Town of Taiji MAP C4

Crowds of young men carry portable shrines incorporating barrels filled with sake offerings through the town to thank the whales and pray for a bountiful catch.

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Seeing, studying, and enjoying whales

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Japan Heritage festivals and traditional
performing arts that depict whaling culture