Every August, thousands of people descend on Hyuga Station to enjoy the Hyottoko Matsuri, a two-day festival that makes devotion to a rich harvest and prosperous business.
On the first day, the eve of the festival, an individual Hyuga Hyottoko competition is held. The main event comes the day after when a special dance, the Hyottoko Odori, is performed during the festival by visiting participants from all over Japan.
Approximately 2,000 dancers put on different masks – the hyottoko, a clown-like character from traditional folklore, his female counterpart, okame, or a fox – and parade through the streets towards the main stage. Wearing red kimono, white obi, and white fundoshi, with mameshibori cloth on their heads, they move to the rhythm of drums, flutes and bell in a cheeky routine that elicits much laughter from the crowd.
Hyuga’s own, local dance, the Nagata no Hyottoko Odori, has been performed at the festival every year since its inception in 1984 and is listed as one of the city’s Intangible Folk Cultural Assets.
Festival goers can try out the moves from the Hyottoko Odori and one of the dance instruction classes offered at the festival. You can even take home your very own Hyottoko mask from one of the many souvenir stalls! Other products unique to Hyuga, including food and drinks, are also on sale.