Aoba Matsuri, Our Local Spring Festival, by Suzaku

Last Up Date 2010.1.27

[Top Page]│[English]

1. The outline

On every third Saturday and Sunday of May, we are supposed to have an Aoba Matsuri, our local spring festival, in Sendai. This festival consists of largely two parts, Yoi Matsuri and Hon Matsuri.

At the Yoi Matsuri held on Saturday, Suzume Odori (sparrow dance) contest is held. Suzume Odori is a traditional dance of Sendai. Many groups takes part in the contest and they show their original dances.

The main event of Hon Matsuri held on Sunday is a historical pageant. You can see more than many Samurai (warriors) 11 Yamaboko (festival cars), and people who are dancing Suzume Odori.
Recently, Aoba Matsuri is more and more popular, and as shown in Figure.1, a stamp of Aoba Matsuri is sold from May 18th 2001.

2. The brief history 

In Edo period, the biggest festival of the Sendai clan was Sendai Matsuri. This festival had been held on every 17th September at Toshogu shrine since Shoo 4 (1655). People walked around the downtown with about 70 Yamaboko.
In Meiji period, Aoba Matsuri was held on May 24th, the anniversary of Date Masamune's death, at Aoba shrine, instead of Sendai Matsuri. Date Masamune was the most powerful lord in Tohoku area. In commemoration of the 250th and 300th anniversary of Date Masamune's death, Aoba Matsuri was held grandly with many Yamaboko in Meiji 18 (1885) and Showa 10 (1935), respectively. However, this festival was put a stop to in the problem of the traffic circumstance in the meddle of Showa 40's (about 1965). In Showa 60 (1985), Aoba Matsuri was restored with the great hope of the citizen for commemorating the 350th anniversary of the Date Masamune's death. Recently, it is taken as the one of 3 big festivals of Sendai.

A stamp of Aoba Matsuri. 3 sparrow dancers and 1 Yamaboko are seen in this stamp.

3. Suzume Odori

Sore! Sore! Sore-sore-sore. . . piiiiiiii! And as the flute begins, the oo-daiko (big drum) joins, boom!, and there is no way to stop our legs. We sparrows take off into a messy dance, the Suzume Odori. Our feet jump to the right, pyong-pyong, then to the left, pyong-pyong, while our arms wave the fans up and down, down and up, like feathers fluttering. A kane (the percussion bell) tings, tink-ki-tink-ki-tink. . . The ko-daiko (small drums) keep the rhythm, toom-popr-po-poom!, toom-popr-po-poom!

Sparrow dancers. We are Suzaku. Members of our group wear white Happi, coats for festival, and red belts. Suzaku is like a big family. All member love Suzume Odori very much. People whoever want to enjoy festivals are welcomed.

It is said that the origin of the Suzume Odori is an ad-lib dance which drunk stonemasons from Osaka area danced in the opening of the Aoba castle in Keicho 8 (1603). The dance is rhythmic and lively. A crest of Date family is bamboo and sparrow, and dancing form looks like a sparrow (Suzume) which is eating food. Therefore, the dance has been called Suzume Odori.

Before the world war II, Suzume Odori had descended from the stonemasons to their descendant who had lived in Ishikiri-cho (now that area is called Hachiman Machi), and they used to dedicate it to Osaki Hachiman shrine. But after the world war II, it descended less and less, and few stonemasons danced it at Ishikiri shrine.

For keeping up disappearing our tradition, we restored Suzume Odori under Mr. Torao Kuroda's coaching. Mr. Kuroda is the 17th successor and he runs Kuroda stone shop at Hachiman Machi. We have held the dance contest and the short course for making Suzume Odori popular as Sendai Suzume Odori since Showa 62 (1987). The dance is very simple and everybody can readily join. Now there are more than 2000 sparrow dancers, and as shown in Figure.3, even a compact disk of the musical accompaniment for the Suzume Odori is on sale.

A jacket of the compact disk of the musical accompaniment for the Suzume Odori. It is sold for 1,000 Yen.
This poster says, "Why don't we dance Suzume Odori at Aoba Matsuri?"

4. Important dates

We are supposed to have Aoba Matsuri on May 15th and 16th, 2010.
* May 15th : Yoi Matsuri
* May 16th : Hon Matsuri
Don't miss it!!

Suzaku at Aoba Matsuri on 20th May, 2000. We won Masamune prize (1st place) at this Aoba Matsuri.

5. Come and join Suzaku!!

Would you like to enjoy life in Sendai? If so, Suzaku has a place for you! Younger or older; Japanese or not; a student or an employee, Suzaku has a place for you.
Junior High school age on up to people in their 40's are welcome. Our main performance is the Aoba Matsuri's "Suzume Odori" contest, but we also have performances throughout the year. Come and join the fun!! (Members are required participation fee)

Please feel free to contact us.

Suzaku's symbol mark.

2011 SUZAKU All right reserved

◆朱雀 since1998

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