Hanataue, Saotome and Noragi

I have traveled to the countryside of the northwestern part of Hiroshima to participate in the festival called “Hanataue”. It is a traditional event registered as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage, in which people pray for good harvest to the God of rice field. Before the rainy season, it is the time to plant rice seedlings in rice fields. Cows with gorgeous decorations then plow the fields, and men and women in traditional costumes play the flutes / drums and plant seedlings while singing. From its glamor,it is said to be “hana” (flower) -planting-rice.

At the beginning of the festival, cows decorated with gorgeous costumes and saddles parade the streets.

Then they enter into the rice paddies and plow. Since the cow had finished its role as a cultivator over 50 years ago, this scenery can only be seen at this festival.

When cows finish plowing, a band clad in traditional costumes and women planting seedlings appear. These women are dressed in traditional field costumes, called “saotome”. Because the festival is also a divine task, they are considered to play the role of shrine maidens serving God. It is said that in the past it was also a dance party to show off young women. Even now, young ladies still take on leading roles in the festival.

Women wear Noragi, which was traditionally worn by farmers. These work clothes were functional, and in the days when cloth was precious, women repaired them many times. During rice planting seasons, women renewed their work clothes and enjoyed chatting with each other about fashion and so on. Although these are work clothes, women always have a strong desire for beautiful things.

Female farmers in noragi (1955) in Toyama from “Sekairyo -Minzoku no Kurashi 1 Kiru Kazaru” Nihonkoutsukoshashuppanzigyokyoku,Tokyo 1982
Yamada Kisaku “Uki” (1934)