Program 10

The Feast of the Gods on a Winter’s Night: Toyama’s Shimotsuki Festival

(Fuyu no yoru no kamigami no utage: Toyama no shimotsuki matsuri)

1970 / B&W / 16mm / 37 min

- Director, Editor, Producer: Noda Shinkichi
Photography: Hasegawa Genkichi
Camera Assistant: Watari Masayuki
Sound: Noda Jun
Production Support: Ono Koji, Matsukawa Yasuo, Iwasa Toshie, Kitamura Minao, Hitosugi Yoko, the community of Shimoguri in Kamimura, Shimoina District, Nagano Prefecture
Source: National Film Archive of Japan

The shimotsuki festival has been passed down over the centuries in the community of Shimoguri, located in Kamimura in Nagano Prefecture’s Shimoina District. The population once staged a revolt against the oppression of the Toyama clan who governed the region. Disease spread in the aftermath and was thought to be the work of the slain clan. The festival was initiated to clear their resentment. The masks of dead spirits dance amid clouds of steam from boiling water.

Good Road for the Living and the Dead: Niino Bon Odori, Festival to Send Off the Gods

(Seija to shisha no kayoimichi: Niino no bonodori kamiokuri no gyoji)

1991 / Color / 16mm / 36 min

- Director, Producer: Noda Shinkichi
Photography: Watari Masayuki, Otsuka Masayuki, Iwasaki Mitsutoshi, Ogawa Katsumi
Sound: Inoue Yosuke
Location Sound: Kikuchi Shinpei, Otsuka Masayuki
Production Support: Office MAP
Supported by: Niino Kogen Dance Society
Source: National Film Archive of Japan

On the nights of the 14th, 15th, and 16th of August, the obon festival takes over the streets of the Niino community of Nagano Prefecture. It is an Obon lacking any music. At its conclusion, a practitioner of shugendo, a syncretic tradition combining elements of Buddhism and Shinto, serves as priest to send off the spirits of ancestors past that have journeyed back for Obon as well as the new spirits of those deceased within the past year. The spirits ride the flames of faceted lanterns that are lit and drift off into the eastern sky.