If it were hands-on, I might go...

Good morning everyone,

Well, I got up really early this morning because I'd left my living room window open and the sound of the pouring rain woke me up. The good news is that it looks like it'll have stopped by the time I'm heading to work. The rest of the day may see some rain, but it's expected to be mostly cloudy today before turning to rain tomorrow and Thursday. That's about as far in the future as you can predict the weather during rainy season.

However, I might head to Shukkeien this Sunday for the rice-planting festival if the weather is nice. I want to try rice planting, but unfortunately at this festival, you only get to watch. The rice planting is done by a group of young ladies in a corner of Shukkei-en Garden, where the small yuunenjyou rice plot of former feudal lords is located. They are accompanied by members of the Shinjo Provincial Art Preservation Committee who re-enact the elaborate Hayashida dance, in which drummers twirl and toss fluffy batons in the air while other play music on flutes.

Once the rice seedlings have been planted, after a short break, the rice planting maidens and the musicians perform once more, this time using the stone bridge that spans Shukkei-en‘s central pond.

To close out the festivities the performers change into more military garb and perform the Nanjo Odori dance which dates from the sengoku warring states period. The dance is said to have been devised to ease the passage of the spirits of dead Nanjo clan soldiers killed when Motoharu Kikkawa, one of the sons of the great local clan leader Motonari Mori, took Ueshi Castle (in present day Tottori Prefecture). Kikkawa is said to to have infiltrated the castle by exploiting the leader of the Nanjo clan’s love of dance by disguising his soldiers as dancers.

Formal tea ceremonies are held in the Seifukan tea house throughout the day, but you can also opt for a more relaxed cuppa served by the young ladies who planted the rice.

The ritual rice planting and tea ceremony event will be held this Sunday-June 12th. If you've never seen traditional rice planting, it might be a good chance to take it in without ever having to leave downtown.

The rice planting ritual and related dances performed by the Shinjo Provincial Art Preservation Committee are between 13:00 and 14:45 and the tea ceremonies run from 10:00-15:00.

  • 13:00-13:30  Hayashida music, song and dance performance in the yuunenjyou (有年場) rice field located in the far right corner of the garden as you stand with your back to the entrance.
  • 13:35-13:55 Hayashida music, song and dance performance on the Kokou-kyo Bridge (跨虹橋) that runs across the pond
  • 14:15-14:45 Nanjyou-odori ( 南条おどり) performance in front of the Seifukan tea house
  • Tea ceremonies willl also be conducted in the Seifukan between 10:00-15:00 and it costs ¥700 extra.
Have a great day!

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