Morioka Sansa Odori

Morioka city, Iwate


Chuo Dori (street), Morioka city, Iwate
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1st to 4th of August


The executive committee of Morioka Sansa Odori

Related Web Site

Iwate Morioka Sansa Odori Festival


The Moroioka Sansa Odori is a magnificent festival, thousands of dancers and drummers fill the main street of Morioka city for four days. A large amount of drum characterizes the festival, and it is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest Japanese drum ensemble in the world.

The origin of the Sansa Odori is said to be related to the legend of “Mitsuishi” (literally, three rocks).
Long ago, an ogre called “Rasetsuki” troubled villagers, so people at a loss asked the God Mitsuishi for help. The God Mistsuishi is three rocks which was enshrined in the precincts of Token-ji temple, and the legend says that they were fallen from the sky when Mt. Iwate erupted. Finally Rasetsuki surrendered to the spiritual power of the God Mitsuishi, and he left a handprint on each of the three rocks as a promise that he would never do bad things again. Villagers were greatly delighted, and they danced around the three rocks. They say that the ceremony is the origin of the Sansa Odori festival.
Incidentally a name of the prefecture “Iwate” (the Japanese Kanji characters literally mean “rock hand”) is derived from the story of leaving handprints on rocks by the ogre.

The Sansa Odori dance has been performed for about 400 years in Morioka and its vicinity, and a way of the dance, music and a cloth varied from place to place. In 1978 every Sansa Odori dances were incorporated, and the festival became the great parade like today. That doesn’t mean the old style dance disappeared, and it has been passed down by an association for the conservation of the traditional dance.

Since visitors are allowed not only to watch but also to participate in the festival, you can join and dance together. There are lectures of Sansa Odori dance, and many fans exist even outside the Iwate prefecture.