Autumn is upon us, and what better way to enjoy the season than by spending time in nature? While fall colors can be hard to find in Miyazaki, there are some truly gorgeous gems if you know where to look. Sometimes a bit of exploring is all you need to discover someplace magical.
Lucky for you, MAJET has already done the scouting, and we’ve planned an amazing brand new event! See some of Miyazaki’s beautiful autumn leaves from a kayak and then visit a secluded mountain village for an ancient festival. Nature and culture—how can you go wrong?
Come join MAJET in Gokase on Saturday, November 7, for an afternoon of kayaking on the Gokase River, surrounded by autumn leaves. Eiji Sugita, from the Gokase Nature School, has graciously offered to guide us through the canyon on what is sure to be an amazing journey.
Following our river adventure, we’ve reserved cabins at Gokase no Sato Camp Village (map). Overlooking Mt. Aso, these cabins are the perfect place to relax, cozy up with a bowl of delicious potluck nabe, and play games. Sunday morning, for those who are keen for a cultural experience, we’ll be caravaning over to Shiiba Village for the Heike Matsuri.
About 45 minutes from Gokase, Shiiba is a very small village comprised of a number of small hamlets scattered throughout the mountains. It is not easily accessible without your own vehicle, and thus is often missed by foreign tourists. However, the villagers couldn’t be more happy or excited to share their culture with newcomers!
The Heike Matsuri celebrates a legendary tragic love affair that took place between two members of rival samurai families—the Heike clan’s Tsurutomi-hime and the Genji Clan’s Daihachiro Nasu—over 800 years ago (source).
Here is the story according to Sumiko Enbutsu, a writer for the Japan Times:
“After their defeat in the battle of Dannoura in 1185, some of the Heike warriors and their companions supposedly fled into the deep shadows of Shiiba’s forests. A youthful Minamoto warrior, Nasu Daihachiro, chased them down and was shocked to see the refugees living in thatched shacks. A rush of pity for their wretched life inspired him to fall in love with Tsurutomi, a Heike nobleman’s daughter. The lovers lived happily together for three years, but were cruelly separated by order of Shogun Yoritomo.
The bereft princess nevertheless gave birth to a daughter, and generations of their descendants thrived in Shiiba, claiming the Nasu family name. The story of their lost love is told in “Hietsuki-bushi,” a work song sung to a shakuhachi accompaniment (source).”
In addition to the usual festival fare, this festival offers a variety of local foods and traditional performances that have carried on Shiiba’s unique customs through generations. The crowning event is the Heike Parade.
The boys wear traditional Genji Clan clothing and the girls dress as Heike maidens while they parade through the town with a variety of musicians and dancers. The parade is also accompanied by the Kyushu-famous Miyazaki Gakuen Orchestra. This festival is certainly one you won’t want to miss!
If you’ve been wanting to visit this rare festival, here’s the perfect reason to carpool with friends up into the mountains for a two-day fall treat!
Date: Saturday, November 7th—Sunday, November 8th
Time: 12:30pm Check-in, 1:00 depart for for canoeing
Location: Gokase no Sato Camp Village (map)
Cost: 7,100円 for MAJET members, 7,600円 for non-MAJET members (kayaking+cabin cost)
What to bring:
- Please wear clothes suitable for physical activity. It will be cold, so be sure to wear layers—fleece, thermals, Heattek, etc. In the event of rain, raincoats and parkas will be provided.
- The cabins will have bedding, but if you’d prefer your own please be sure to bring it.
- Drinks, snacks, and food for breakfast
- 1 Nabe ingredient (we will coordinate this later)
- Games (if you’d like)
If you’ll be joining us for this amazing weekend excursion, simply fill out the Google RSVP form by Monday, November 2nd.
You must fill out an official form in order to participate. RSVPs via Facebook will not be counted. RSVPs and cancellations will not be accepted after the deadline. Please also ensure that you will be able to attend before submitting your form.