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Home » 5. Rites and Festivals » Individual Shrine Observances
Hana matsuri (Yamagata)
"Flower Festival." A festival held on July 15 at the Dewa Mountain Shrines (Dewa sanzan jinja), in Haguro Town, Higashitagawa District, Yamagata Prefecture. On both sides of the road of Tōke village at the foot of the mountain, flowers and artificial flowers appear everywhere as decorations, even inside people's homes. After the ceremonies, a tall bonten (a long ritual pole with paper streamers attached to its upper portion) decorated with countless flowers, leads the portable shrine (mikoshi) from the shrine building (shaden). When the bonten and shrine have circled the Kagami pond, the festival participants rush the bonten to take the flowers. The flowers serve as protection charms for domestic safety and the dispelling of pestilence.
       Between the end of November and early January all shrines in Toyone Village, Tōei Town, and Tsugu Village in the Shitara District of Aichi Prefecture hold ritual hot water ablutions (yudate) and ceremonial dancing (kagura). These observances are collectively called Flower Festival (Hana matsuri). The "flower" refers in this case to the lotus that blossoms in the Buddhist Pure Land. There are many examples where festivals in which flowers are presented as offerings to the kami are called flower festivals.
       On November 1, at the Hachiman shrine of Aba Village, Tomata District, Okayama Prefecture, villagers of the eight local areas decorate festival floats (dashi) each in its own style with elaborate umbrella shaped artificial flowers. Young people parade these through the village and this is called a flower festival.
       There is a Flower Festival on April 25 at Shiogama Shrine (Shiogama jinja) of Shiogama City, Miyagi Prefecture. On April 22, there is a Flower Festival (kenka sai - flower offering ritual) at Ikasuri Shrine (Ikasuri jinja) in Ōsaka City, Ōsaka Prefecture. There is another Flower Festival at the shrine Myōkengū in Yatsushiro City, Kumamoto Prefecture in April, at the peak of the blossoming season. Indeed, many of the flower festivals are held in April, at the peak of the cherry blossoms. It is for the same reason that the celebration of Buddha's Birthday (kanbutsu e) of April 8 is called flower festival.

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