Hirayama Sueshige Festival
If you’ve been reading along, I’m sure you all know that a number of famous Shinsengumi samurai had their roots here in Hino. However, Hino’s history of producing strong warriors traces back further, much further than the 19th century. In fact, it traces so far back that a samurai commander from the area —Hirayama Sueshige— is included in both The Tale of the Heike and Azuma Kagami. These two important works of medieval Japanese literature detail the events of an epic power struggle that took place in the 12th century. A monument remembering Sueshige now stands on the grounds of his former residence.
This month, over 800 years since Sueshige fought alongside Minamoto no Yoshitsune, Hino locals gathered for the Hirayama Sueshige Festival in spite of inclement weather. The event was held near Sueshige’s original residence, and was an opportunity for the community to enjoy traditional Japanese arts like calligraphy and yosakoi dance while learning more about their city.
One of the biggest draws of the Hirayama Festival was its multigenerational appeal. The event featured a number of hands-on crafts stations for small children to join in on the fun. The kids here are designing cardstock armor plates like Sueshige would have worn (albeit a good deal more colorful!), which they then wore around the event. There was also a station for families to decorate fabric eco-bags to reduce paper and plastic waste.
Back in the main event area, things really heated up during the bombastic taiko drum concert. The performers were a wide variety of ages, from adults to tiny little five-year-olds hardly taller than the giant drums! Don’t be fooled by their size though; these mini musicians held their own throughout the rhythmical demonstration and had the whole gymnasium floor rumbling. In the middle of the concert, the group invited kids in the audience to come up and try playing the drums themselves, while parents and grandparents joined in by clapping along to the beat.
With the whole crowd in a musical mood, the event ended with a free-for-all rendition of Hino’s “Hino Song” by the event’s many different performers. Once the music started, even people sitting in the audience got up to dance along, children and adults alike! Even though everyone had had a long day, you could just feel the energy in the room rising. This was definitely the perfect way to close out the day on a high note.
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