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Doburoku Matsuri Festival

14th - 19th Oct.
People pray to the mountain god for safety and a good harvest and offer doburoku(unrefined sake) to the shrine to express their gratitude. While private alcoholic beverage production is banned in Japan, people in Shirakawa are given special permission to produce doburoku for a limited quantity for this festival. Doburoku looks like rice porridge. It is thick and slightly sweet. Doburoku first offered to the shrine later entertains people gathered in the precincts. People there dance, perform niwaka(improvised buffoonery), sing songs and so on. The Doburoku Matsuri Festival is the biggest among the festivities for the villagers.

Festival day for each shrine
DistrictShrineFestival day
OgimachiShirakawa Hachiman Shrine14th - 15th Oct.
HatogayaHatogaya Hachiman Shrine16th - 17th Oct.
IijimaIijima Hachiman Shrine18th - 19th Oct.
KitaniKitani Hakusan Shrine10th Oct.
HiraseHirase Hachiman Shrine25th - 26th Sep.

Schedule for the festival
Schedule (begining time)ContentsNotes
9:00-festivalShinto rites Ceremony at a shrine
9:00-going round the townParade
15:00-16:00dedicating ShishimaiPrecincts of a shrine
15:00-16:00blessing with DoburokuPrecincts of a shrine
15:00-16:00dedicating the folk songs"Hougei-den" at a shrine
19:00-dedicating ShishimaiPrecincts of a shrine
21:00-dedicating public entertainment"Hougei-den" at a shrine
For more details, please make inquires at shrine.


Shishimai (Lion dance) an important intangible cultural asset designated by Gifu Prefecture.

Shishimai (Lion dance), a living dance, has been cultivated by a long history and is highly evaluated as one of the highlights of entertainment for Shirakawa-go. During the Doburoku Festival, spectators been totally absorbed in a world of tradition.
Presently, 7 organizations keep the tradition alive.The large"Mukade Shishi"(Lion like a centipede) is given life when 4 dancers get under one cloth and dance with 8 legs.
Another interesting lion dance tells us of a legend of 2 boys winning a battle against a lion, using a Japanese sword and halberd.

Folk songs in Shirakawa-go

A long time ago when traffic was held up by snow, singing and dancing accompanied by the shamisen (a traditional Japanese three-stringed banjo-like instrumental) were their only comfort.
The people in Shirakawa-go lived in such harsh winters for hundreds of years, and so many folk songs were composed and handed down.
"Kodaijin" "Wajima" and "Shossho" etc. are very unique in this village, and they are always sung and danced when people have happy events, for example a wedding reception, the erection of the frame of a house, restoration of a thatched roof and so on.
"Kodaijin" (an important intangible cultural asset) has especially became famous for its unique words, melody, and dance.