Yamagata city in Yamagata prefecture is situated in Tohoku region in Japan. Yamagata has more than its share of natural splendor. The famous Ou mountains ,forming the border with Miyagi prefecture, contain Mount Zao which provides many ski resorts and attract a lot of tourists from home and abroad in winter.
"Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri (Flower Hat Festival) held annually over three days in August 5,6,7 in Yamagata city is included in the list of Tohoku’s five greatest festivals along with Aomori Nebuta Festival, Akita Kanto Festival, Sendai Tanabata Festival and Morioka Sansa Odori Festival.
The festival sees more than 10,000 dancers parading through the streets performing dynamic dance routines with the conical hats adorned with artificial safflowers and fabulous costumes. Led by gorgeously decorated festival floats of Zao-gongen Bodhisattva, dancers dance
in concert with "Hangasa ondo" dance songs and jovial beat of the hanagasa-daiko drums chanting “yassho makasho”
Hanagasa ondo dance song was originally sung by construction workers, but it has been changed with the times and it has grown into the melody with merry mood accompaniment as what it is today in the early Showa(1926-1989) period.
The current song lyrics, which admire beautiful features of famous Mogami river in Yamagata prefecture, were selected from public application.
Until just a few years ago,beautiful group performances with perfectly synchronized movements were sought after. Today, however, the dancing form has changed and dance performances come in wide variety, such as traditional local performances, dynamic spins of flower hats, creative performances,etc. The festival is open to all the individual participants including Miss Hanagasa. So excitement begin to spread across the venue of the parade.
Image Provided by Yamagata Prefectural Hanagasa Conference