Oct 06, 2018 Event Onomichi

The Innoshima Suigun Festival ,Himatsuri 2018

#Event2018 ,#History ,#Local Festival ,#Photogenic ,#Summer

What Was the Murakami Suigun?

The Murakami Suigun was a group of pirates who were active mainly in the Seto Inland Sea area during the Middle Ages’ Sengoku Era (Warring Era) which is the Chugoku and Shikoku regions of today. Subsequently, they branched out into three factions i.e. the Innoshima Murakami family, Noshima Murakami family Kurushima Murakami family.

The Innoshima Murakami family had as many as 114,500 vassals and were known as the feudal lord of the sea who contributed to the victory of the Mori army over Oda Nobunaga’s troops.

Despite being referred to as pirates, the Murakami Suigun was actually protecting the maritime safety in the Seto Inland Sea. Till today, the Murakami Suigun is still a charismatic presence which fascinates people and had been registered in the Japan Heritage list.

The Beginning of the Suigun Festival

In order to replicate the days of when the Murakami Suigun was active and convey their heroic deeds to the current generation, there is an annual Innoshima Suigun Festival. The islanders of Innoshima get together to hold this event which was held since 1991 and is into its 28th edition in 2018.

Introducing the Three Parts of the Suigun  Festival

The Suigun Festivals made up of three parts i.e. Shima-matsuri (The Island Festival), Umimatsuri (The Sea Festival) and Himatsuri (The Fire Festival). Shima-matsuri offers thanks to the ancestors while the Umimatsuri features a race using small boats named kohaya which were used in the past by the navy to convey orders to the fleet.

This is held with the purpose of promoting cooperation and sense of togetherness among the participants. The Fire Festival then celebrates the victorious return of the navy which will replicate how the scenes in the past looked like and show the joy of living to the festival’s visitors.

Himatsuri -The Fire Festival 2018

Despite rainy weather throughout the day on Sep,1st 2018 when The Fire Festival was held, as many as 42,000 people participated in the event as the rain stopped just before the starting time.

Starting with the Deai Yume Taiko

At 4:30 pm, the Deai Yume Taiko marked the start of the festival.

The Return of the Murakami Suigun

At dusk, the first kohaya comes back to the island to inform everyone about the end of the navy’s duties which is met with a joyful dance named Chourakumai performed by the islanders.

Lighting the Bonfire

With the arrival of the homura (flame) warriors, the bonfire at the event venue will be lit which is sure to elevate the atmosphere there.

Chourakumai Hanekurabe

The two-part Chourakumai Hanekurabe is held where there are multiple local teams competing against one another to see who has the best dance performance. Results are announced at the end of the festival.

Entrance of a Large Flaming Pine Torch

A flaming pine torch is brought into the event venue where it is spun and shaken with such force that there are sparks flying all around. This is a grand sight to behold during the festival.

During the scene where the troops come marching in, the heat from the fire can be felt by the spectators sitting at the sides. The handmade armor worn by the warriors are as real as they can get because these are made by Marutake Sangyo which provides such costumes for the filming of movies and dramas. Seeing this scene unfold before your eyes is as if you are really back in the Sengoku Era.

Once all the troops have entered, they will present various formations before the lord issues the command to launch the shout of victory. You will definitely be wowed by the sight of so many warriors lined up in front of you.

Cannon Fireworks

After the shout of victory comes the climax of the night, the cannon fireworks display. About 1,000 fireworks will light up the night sky and raise the mood of the spectators to the maximum. Among these, do look out for the firework modelled after Murakami Suigun’s family crest.

Mass Dance

The finale is marked by the mass dance involving the islanders and spectators. Although The Island Festival was cancelled due to the heavy rain, The Fire Festival was able to proceed and rounded up the festivities perfectly.

Check out the Numerous Stalls

At the event venue of The Sea Festival, there are numerous stalls where you can enjoy delicious food such as shaved ice and fried noodles just like any other summer festival.

You can also find many original products related to the Innoshima Suigun Festival here.

There are lots of items which are ideal as souvenirs to bring back home such as the washi tape and mini table-top flag with the navy’s logo.

See and Participate in the Suigun Festival

The Innoshima Suigun Festival may be a festival created by the locals but visitors can also have a great time basking in the vibrant festivities with highlights such as the warriors’ march, the flaming pine torch performance and not to forget, the fireworks! Do come by to experience this festival for yourself and explore the other tourist spots related to the Innoshima Navy as well while you are here.

Event Information

Innoshima Suigun Festival Himatsuri
Date September in 2019
Venue Innoshima Amenity Park Shimanami Beach
57, Innoshima Ohama-cho, Onomichishi (map)
Closest Station JR Sanyo Honsen – Onomichi Station
Website Official Website (Japanese)
Entrance Fee Free

How to Access to Innoshima Suigun Fire Festival

Fare: ¥2,050      Required time: About 2 hours      Number of transfers: 1

Hiroshima Station

Onomichi Station
JR Sanyo Honsen

Innoshima Oohashi
Onomichi Bus towards Innoshima Habu Port
(25 mins)

Innoshima Amenity Park Shimanami Beach
Walk (10 mins)