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Festivals and events
Seasonal festivals
Kanagi Cherry Blossom Festival
Kanagi Cherry Blossom Festival
This is a spring event held around the Golden Week holidays in Ashino Prefectural Park, which was chosen as among the 100 best cherry blossom viewing spots in Japan. As many as about 2,200 cherry trees of different kinds, such as somei yoshino and satozakura, burst into bloom in the park covering an area of about 125 ha, making a sharp contrast with 1,800-some old black pine trees along the shore of Lake Ashino. Visitors are also able to enjoy cherry blossoms from inside the train cars of Tsugaru Railway. Fireworks displays are also held during the festival period.

Festival period: April 29 to May 6
Venue: Ashino Park in Kanagi-machi
Information: Kanagi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Tel.: 0173-52-2611

100th Anniversary of Osamu Dazai’s Birth
100th Anniversary of Osamu Dazai’s Birth
Osamu Dazai (whose real name was Shuji Tsushima) was born in Kanagi-machi of Goshogawara City on June 19, 1909. In honor of his great contributions to Japanese literature and to commemorate his birth together with fans of Dazai’s literary works, the anniversary of his birth is celebrated in Ashino Park on June 19 every year. The mayors of Goshogawara City and Mitaka City, the governor of Aomori Prefecture and Sonoko Tsushima (Dazai’s eldest daughter) attend the anniversary ceremony. His works are read to the audience in the ceremony, and cherries that Dazai loved are offered to his spirit. A special exhibition is also held in Shayokan - Osamu Dazai Memorial Hall. In 2009, which marked the centennial of Dazai’s birth, a bronze statue of Dazai was erected in Ashino Park, where about 800 people, including his fans and other persons concerned from around the country, attended the statue’s unveiling ceremony. Sonoko Tsushima talked about her memories of Dazai and Ashino Park in her address celebrating the centennial and unveiling of the statue, telling the audience that her father might be drinking with his friends above the clouds to celebrate the anniversary.
The bronze statue is approximately two meters in height. Placed on a stone pedestal (roughly two meters high), the statue is shown wearing a cloak and faces the direction of Shayokan, the former home of his parents. The statue was created by Shinya Nakamura, a sculptor representing Japan who won the Order of Culture, based on a photograph of Dazai taken in 1944 as he walked around his home in Mitaka City, Tokyo.

Anniversary period: June 19
Venue: Shayokan - Osamu Dazai Memorial Hall and Ashino Park in Kanagi-machi
Information: Goshogawara City Board of Education
Tel.: 0173-35-2111

Mini Snow Communication Festival
Mini Snow Communication Festival
The Third Mini Snow Communication Festival is scheduled to be held on February 13 and 14, 2010, in Ashino Park. Various events are scheduled for both days, including athletic events in the snow, a horse sledge workshop, snow sculpture competition, live entertainment performed on the snow (dances, local performing arts, etc.) and winter fireworks displays.

Festival period: February 13 and 14, 2010 (scheduled)
Venue: Ashino Park in Kanagi-machi
Information: Kanagi Genki Club 317-1 Asahiyama, Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture
Tel.: 0173-54-2828


Knowing the Traditions of Oku-Tsugaru
Nitabo Festival
Nitabo Festival
This festival is held every year in honor of Nitabo of Kanbara (whose real name was Nitaro Akimoto), the founder of Tsugaru shamisen music that originated in Kanagi-machi, based on historical materials about his shamisen performances in Kanagi-machi.
Passionate musical performances are given on stage by various shamisen players, including those who have received the Nitabo Award in the Kanagi Tsugaru Shamisen National Competition, in the very town where Tsugaru shamisen music originated.

Festival period: Varies from year to year
Venue: Outdoor stage of Tsugaru Shamisen Tourist Hall
Information: Kanagi Asunaro Store Association
Tel.: 0173-52-2878

Kanagi Tsugaru Shamisen National Competition
Kanagi Tsugaru Shamisen National Competition
This national competition for Tsugaru shamisen music in a new age is open to anyone regardless of native country, shamisen school or group affiliation.
Participants must perform shamisen music in their own original styles that differ from those of other people. Based on the guiding philosophy of the founder, Nitabo of Kanbara, the competition is held to evaluate overall shamisen skills, levels of understanding Tsugaru folk music, and the challenging spirit of participants.

Competition period: Two days during the Golden Week holidays
Venue: Main stage of Kanagi Community Hall
Information: Kanagi Genki Club
Tel.: 0173-54-1616

Tsugaru Dialect Talk Sessions
Tsugaru Dialect Talk Sessions
Tsugaru Dialect Talk Sessions were held four times daily during the Dazai Museum Pre-opening Festa, which was held in Ashino Park on September 5 and 6, 2009.
In a mini-lecture on the Tsugaru dialect, Shu Kakuta—a charismatic figure in the tourist industry—explained such words in the Tsugaru dialect as na (you), wa (I), ke (eating), ku (to eat) and me (delicious) in a humorous way, thus drawing laughs from the audience. Haruhisa Ito, a singer-songwriter from Tsugaru, sang minor-key songs in the Tsugaru dialect to his own guitar accompaniment using Tsugaru dialect words that express casual behavior in daily life, such as shinkei-tagari (nervous), gudamegi (complaint) and mameshi (healthy), drawing both laughter and applause from the audience.

Information: Kanagi Genki Club 317-1 Asahiyama, Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture
Tel.: 0173-54-2828


Traditional Performing Arts in the Kanagi Area
Kanagi Mountain Climbing Music
Kanagi Mountain Climbing Music
This event is held annually on August 1 of the old lunar calendar in order to express thanks and pray for bountiful harvests. At this event, people climb sacred Mt. Iwaki, and dance to chants of “Saigi! Saigi!” along with the singing of festive tunes.
A local preservation association is working to pass this tradition on to the next generation by providing musical performance lessons to elementary school children at the community hall. This musical performance is held in most areas of this region from which Mt. Iwaki is visible. In Kanagi, the Kanagi Musical Performance Prefectural Competition is held during the Cherry Blossom Festival, and attracts a large audience.

Information: Kanagi Chamber of Commerce and Industry
Tel.: 0173-52-2611

Kanagi Sanaburi Horse Dance
Kanagi Sanaburi Horse Dance
This horse dance is believed to have originated when rice paddies were first being developed in the Kanagi region and elaborate plague-purging ceremonies (called mushi-okuri) spread among farmers. According to local legend, when Nobumasa, lord of the Tsugaru domain at the time, visited Kanagi on an inspection tour, villagers were so awed by his dignity that they added his horse riding scene to the dance performed in their plague-purging ceremony in order to forever preserve the memory of Nobumasa as an honored tradition of their village. The Kanagi Sanaburi Horse Dance Preservation Association has designated the horse dance as an intangible folk cultural asset of Aomori Prefecture, and teaches the dance to the next generation in order to preserve local tradition. Members of the Preservation Association used to perform the dance at the New Year’s ceremony held at Kanagigo Chinju Hachimangu Shrine and in summer festivals. In recent years, however, the association has mainly focused on activities aimed at increasing the number of potential horse dance performers in the future, such as providing training for local elementary school children.

Kase Yakko Dance
Kase Yakko Dance
This Bon festival dance has a tradition dating back about 300 years. It is believed to have originated from the dance performed by Yakko Tokusuke, a servant of Denuement Narumi, a samurai retainer of the Tsugaru domain. According to legend, Nobumasa, the fourth lord of the domain, ordered Denuemon Narumi and Gorobe Kudo to begin developing the Kase Shinden rice fields. However, the two retainers faced difficulties in the development project due to the region’s poor soil quality. In lamenting the hardship of his master, Tokusuke performed the dance to console him. The dance was designated as an intangible folk cultural asset of Aomori Prefecture in 1969.
A dance preservation association has also been organized in the local community to recruit participants in dances to be performed on the stages of folk arts events held in various places.


Events for the 100th Anniversary of Dazai’s Birth
Recitation of the Literary Work Tsugaru
Recitation of the Literary Work Tsugaru
Dazai’s literary work entitled Tsugaru was read at four reading sessions each day during the Dazai Museum Pre-opening Festa, which was held in Ashino Park on September 5 and 6, 2009. The work was read by Temi Tsushima, who played the part of Take, Dazai’s babysitter, in the theatrical performance of Tsugaru held to celebrate the centennial of Dazai’s birth. She read the last scene of Tsugaru, where Dazai meets Take after many years of absence, and profoundly impressed the audience when expressing the feelings of Take. These reading sessions are scheduled to be held next year as well.

Information: Kanagi Genki Club 317-1 Asahiyama, Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture
Tel.: 0173-54-2828

Theatrical Performance of Tsugaru for the 100th Anniversary of Dazai’s Birth
Theatrical Performance of Tsugaru for the 100th Anniversary of Dazai’s Birth
In commemorating the centennial of Dazai’s birth, a theatrical performance entitled Tsugaru, written based on Dazai’s literary work Tsugaru, was held with the participation of prefectural residents from September 2 to 6 at a special site created in Ashino Park in Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City. The performance was held under the auspices of Aomori Prefecture and Koji Hasegawa, the general stage art director of the Aomori Museum of Art, who both wrote the script and directed the play. Takehiro Murata, the actor who played the part of Dazai, Maiko Kawakami, who played the part of a travel writer, the actors of local theatrical groups, and prefectural residents who passed the audition gave an enthusiastic performance to convey messages about home and love.

Information: Kanagi Genki Club 317-1 Asahiyama, Kanagi-machi, Goshogawara City, Aomori Prefecture
Tel.: 0173-54-2828


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