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Japanese Traditional Arts

Uozu’s Tatemon Event
Art Category Festival
Name Uozu’s Tatemon Event

Uozu’s Tatemon Event《Feature》
Uozu’s tatemon event is one of the main events that are held during the Jantokoi Uozu Festival in Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture.

A tatemon is made of a large post approximately 16m tall with roughly 90 lanterns hanging from it in a triangular shape. A long picture is hung underneath. The total length of the tatemon is 10m and it weighs approximately 5 tons. This is then stood on a support to make the tatemon into the shape of a ship and is vigorously paraded around by roughly 80 people. The shape of the tatemon is thought to represent the pile of offerings before an altar. It is also said that it could be the shape of a fishing boat with its sails unfurled. It’s said that the name “tatemon” comes from the mispronunciation of “tatematsuru”, which means “to offer” or “to revere.”

The Uozu tatemon event is held every August on the first Friday and Saturday of the month. Tatemons set out from the neighborhoods worshipping the fisherman’s shrine, Suwa Shrine, which is located in the neighborhood of Suwa Town. At night, seven tatemon set out for Suwa Shrine. The tatemons are pulled by excited young people wearing a happi coat. The hundreds of beautiful lanterns color the night sky and the cries of the young people echo across the sea. Spectators watch breathlessly as the movement of the tatemons made by the strength of the people seems to move both heaven and earth. Uozu proudly boasts this exciting, lively and majestic Tatemon Festival as one of the representative events of summer nights in the city.

Upon investigation on the origin of the tatemon event, it seems that it originated roughly 300 years ago from the shrine parishioners’ wish for a big catch of fish and safety on the sea. It is also said that each neighborhood used to carry around the support from which several lanterns hung, and gradually the amount of lanterns increased. During the Meiji era(19-20c) there were 25 lanterns. Then they increased to 50 lanterns at the start of the Taisho era(20c), and the number has grown even further to the amount we see today.

Around the year 1955, Suwa Shrine was situated just before a sandy beach in front of the sea. It is said that the lower part of the tatemon at that time was meant to be used as a sled on the sandy beach. Kamogawa River flows on the south side of Suwa Shrine and even now a narrow river flows on the north side. It is said that the people from the external neighborhoods on both sides crossed these rivers in order to offer or present a tatemon to the shrine. Both the Ariso Dome and Mirage Hall in Uozu City have a smaller version of a tatemon on display.

[National Selected Intangible Cultural Asset]
Provided by: Uozu Tourism Association
Translation by: Catherine Newman, reviewed by Aki Tobayama

City/Town Area around Suwa Shrine, 1-16 Suwa-cho, Uozu-shi
Location Suwa Shrine, Suwa-cho, Uozu-shi
Contact Uozu Tourism Association
Tel: 0765-22-1200
Access From Uozu interchange, Namerikawa interchange or JR Uozu Station
15 minutes by car from Uozu interchange and 10 minutes by taxi from JR Uozu Station
20 minutes on foot from Toyama Chiho Railway, Uozu Station
Highlight/POI There is a fireworks display on the sea on the second night and the contrast of the firework display and tatemon can be viewed. The fireworks exploding in the night sky and the magnificent tatemon produce a beautiful sight.
General Participation It is only possible to watch Uozu’s Tatemon Event.
Place: Suwa Shrine
Time and date: 1st Friday and Saturday of August
URL http://www.uozu-kanko.jp/?p=9

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