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[Hidden Wonders of Japan] Celebrating the Season at Kumano Nachi Taisha

The festival reenacts an episode from Emperor Kazan (968–1008), who wrote a waka poem on Mount Nachi praising the beauty of the cherry blossoms.

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Shrine maidens performing a dance as part of the "Sakura Flower Festival" at Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine. Nachi Falls can be seen in the background. April 14, Nachikatsuura Town, Wakayama Prefecture.

The World Heritage Site Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine held the Sakura Flower Festival to pray for a bumper crop on April 14.  To thank nature for its blessings, two shrine maidens with their hair adorned with cherry blossom hair pins, performed an elegant dance in front of the Shintai, Nachi Falls, which is Japan’s tallest waterfall.

The World Heritage Site is located in Nachikatsuura Town, Wakayama Prefecture, about 130 km south of Osaka. 

Reenacting an anecdote from the retirement of Emperor Kazan (968–1008), the festival tells the story of his 1000 days’ stay on Mount Nachi, where he wrote a waka poem praising the beauty of the cherry blossoms in this area. 

Shrine maidens performing a dance as part of the “Sakura Flower Festival” at Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine.

At the festival celebration, a Shinto priest wearing a black-lacquered eboshi (Japanese formal headwear) with a cherry blossom decoration, blew a whistle and rang a drum in the background. 

Chishiko Ise, 64, a tourist from Kagoshima City, was delighted at the scene. “The shrine maidens’ dance was very beautiful,” she said, adding “The priests’ songs and performances were also wonderful. They made me feel relaxed.”

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(Read the article in Japanese at this link.)

Author: Sankei Shimbun