In late August, there was an illumination event called, 'Echizen Asakura Mantoya' at Ichijodani Asakura Ruins in Fukui city. This event has been held for ten years now, and in it thousands of candles are lit-up to illuminate the ancient historical ruins in Ichijodani valley. The ruins are surrounded by serene mountains, and the illuminated mountain scenery looks so mysterious at night.
In 2004, when the first 'Mantoya' was scheduled to be held, a severe rainstorm hit Fukui city. Some areas of the city were flooded badly and they almost gave up holding the event. However, more than 10,000 volunteers came from all over Japan to help locals recover from the damage, and thanks to them the first 'Mantoya' was successfully held with 3,000 candle lights illuminating the ruins. Since then, the event has been held annually, and the candle cups have been recycled carefully.
Along with the 'Mantoya' light-up, a 'Sengoku Festival' was also held. 'Sengoku', as you may know, signifies the Warring States period of Japan (1467-1573). The ruins, (i.e. the festival venue) were once the castle town of the Asakura Clan, which reigned in Fukui for 103 years (the town was burnt down by Oda Nobunaga in 1573 and the Asakura Clan ran away in defeat), and the festival was named after the period in which this place prospered.
In the 'Sengoku Festival', as you might imagine, various 'Sengoku Period'-related events were held, such as a 'Samurai Procession' in which people in full samurai armor march along the street, or performances of Japanese martial arts, to remind you of what life was like during the samurai era. The most impressive event was the Harquebuse Firing performance. Harquebuse is a firearm imported to Japan in the 16th century, and samurai at the time fought with this 'new' firearm in hand (Unfortunately I have no photos of the Sengoku Festival to show you what it was like.)
Let's go back to the Mantoya festival. This year, they lit up 15,000 candles for the occasion, and a variety of events were held for two days, such as music concerts featuring Japanese drums, erhu, kocarina, a match-making party, dance performances, etc. For this event, free-shuttle buses are available from various bus stops in Fukui city to the venue. Many people young and old got together and enjoyed the mystic view of the illuminated ancient ruins. This is one of Fukui's 'must-see' events if you happen to be here in summer!
For information on next year's event, please refer to their Website.
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I was born in and grew up in Tokushima prefecture, and have lived in many places since then: Nishinomiya, Kyoto, Nara, Mie, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Saitama, Chiba, Fukuoka and Fukui. I am currently living in Yokohama City. All the places I lived, all the places I visited, I have loved dearly. The historical places where people lived, loved, suffered, and fought - places where I can still hear their heartbeats - mesmerize me. I'd like to retrace the footsteps of the people who lived in Japan a long long time ago, and introduce to you what they left behind on this soil.