After Japan's political climate was rocked by the end of the nation's 200-year-long period of national isolation, civil war broke out in 1868. The Boshin War, which lasted around a year and a half, included imperial forces' siege of modern-day Fukushima's Tsurugajo Castle in the Battle of Aizu. Amongst the forces defending the castle was the Shinsengumi. Now, almost 150 years later, Hino City's Shinsengumi Parade Corps and the Hino Shinsengumi Doukoukai club still send their support every September during the Aizu Festival.
The Aizu Festival is an annual event held in Fukushima's Aizu-Wakamatsu City celebrating the area's history and heritage. The three-day festival's main attraction is a parade reenacting the deployment and safe return of 500 warriors. The 2017 parade on September 23rd opened with a performance of the domain's feudal lord assembling his various troops at the Tsurugajo Castle and sending them to battle. With actors representing famous historical figures like Hino's own Hijikata Toshizo leading them, the "warriors" crossed the castle moat and headed out to march through the city.
The six kilometer parade course was packed with locals, Japanese tourists, and foreign guests alike! Hino’s Shinsengumi Parade Corps and the Doukoukai received an extraordinarily warm welcome. I couldn't even count how many children excitedly reached out to high five the members, and several spectators waved signs with "thank you for coming again!" printed across them. Bolstered by spectators' cheers and good luck wishes,Hino's performersput on a spectacular show of mock sword battles. After seeing them in action, it's little wonder that Fukushima's locals were looking forward to Hino's performance!
With Tsurugajo Castle safe and sound, the Shinsengumi Parade Corps is now preparing for their next parade. Their dedication really is true to the Shinsengumi's "sincerity," the character emblazoned across their banners and uniforms!
When they aren't out sharing their love of the Shinsengumi with the rest of Japan, the Parade Corps also performs here in Hino. You can see them march and stage swordfights each year at Hino's Shinsengumi Festival in May. Of course, if you want to try dressing up like a Shinsengumi samurai yourself, you can give it a go at the Shinsengumi Furusato Historical Museum. It's definitely worth a shot!
Wanna learn more about the Shinsengumi and how you can experience samurai culture in Hino? Check out the Hino Note on the Shinsengumi Furusato Historical Museum!
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Phone (Direct Line): 042-514-8098
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Address: Hino City Hall, 3th Floor
1-12-1 Shinmei, Hino, Tokyo 191-8686
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