Aug 122013

Good morning, everyone, from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! It’s shaping up to be another sweltering August Day today, but we’re all working hard here in the office!

Last week, I was unable to write a blog about it, but this morning I would like to share with you one of Itoigawa’s largest summer festivals which was held here on the 3rd:  The Omanta Festival.

Omanta Festival Dancers

Community members join in the dancing that forms the main event at the Omanta Festival.

Omanta’ is a word in the Itoigawa dialect of Japanese that translates to “you (plural).” It is a word that is unique to Itoigawa and so it is only natural that it come to represent just what it means to be a citizen of Itoigawa.

The Omanta Matsuri or Omanta Festival is held on the first weekend of August every year. It starts early Saturday morning with the usual shrine processions and culminates in a large bon odori, a style of traditional Japanese dance that is performed in a large circle. The bon odori at Itoigawa’s Omanta Festival is danced by nearly 3000 members, divided up into over 50 teams. The entire dance is performed in front of Itoigawa Station, around roughly two blocks.

Picture of Itoigawa's Mascots

Mascots of Itoigawa and the Geopark pose for pictures.

This year’s festival saw the introduction of a new mascot for Itoigawa, standing third from the right: Gyofu-san. Modeled after Gyofu Souma, a famous poet and writer from Itoigawa, Gyofu-san was created to introduce the traditional arts of Itoigawa to the younger generations.

Mascots dancing

Mascots join in the bon odori

The mascots even had an opportunity to join members of the Itoigawa Geopark Staff in the festivities of the evening.

On the 10th, Nou District celebrated with their fireworks festival. I’ll be sure to post about that before the week is out.


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