The “doll” introduced below is much bigger than my hand made porcelain doll. As a craft artist, I used to make porcelain dolls myself. Although they are displayed in my house, “dolls” I am introducing today are “displayed” in paddy fields and their size is much much bigger (almost same size as humans). They are pretty useful and they work 24 hours a day and 7 days a week to protect crops (mainly rice) from birds such as crows etc.
In October a variety of festivals are celebrated all over Japan. Many of them are held for expressing appreciation to God for successful crop and harvest and hoping next year’s successful crop. As you may know, main food for Japanese people is rice which is produced in paddy fields. In order to protect crops from attacks by birds such as crows, people use scarecrows which are pretty popular all over Japan.
Until about 30-40 years ago, most scarecrows in Japan look very similar, namely having only one leg and wearing conventional “clothing”. Nowadays however we can find various types of scarecrows and many of them look like real persons dressed in various clothes not only Japanese traditional clothing but also current popular clothes liked by young people. Traditional scarecrows have only single leg. But modern scarecrow sometimes have two legs and wear regular pants, which is one of reasons why they look like a real person.
In addition to clothing, the style of scarecrow is “evolving”. Some look like a man working in a paddy field which is most common even now, some look like a woman wearing women’s clothing, some play sports such as soccer and some dancing or playing with kids etc etc. We can find scarecrows like animation characters now.
Here is a unique festival featuring scarecrow called SCARECROW FESTIVAL (“Kakashi Matsuri” in Japanese). As a matter of fact this type of festival featuring scarecrow is celebrated in several places in Japan. I would like to introduce a few outstanding scarecrow fests as follows:
A. Kama-shi Kakashi Festival (Kama City Scarecrow Fest):
This festival is held in the city of Kama of Fukuoka prefecture which is located in the Kyushu Island (in the Western end of Japanese Island). One of pictures uploaded on the slide show for this article shows so many scarecrows that look like real people playing Sumo Wrestling and some of them are watching the Sumo game and some are dancing Japanese traditional dance (“Nihon Buyou” in Japanese). To my surprise, there are about 150 scarecrows in this paddy field (rice paddy). This particular festival is held on October 28 this year. If you visit THIS PAGE, you find several types of scarecrows that look like real people in different situations such as woman plowing the field, boys playing soccer or woman with kids. Crows must be surprised at so many people gathering.
B. National Scarecrow Festival at Kaminoyama City (“Zenkoku Kakashi Matsuri”):
This festival has been held since 1971 at Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture (North Eastern Japan) where people can enjoy not only scarecrow exhibition but also hot springs. Every year the festival has so many exhibitors who participate from various places all over Japan. About 950 scarecrows were displayed at the festival held on September 15, this year. Some of them are Samurai (worrier) scarecrows wearing a suite of armor, boys playing music and animation characters etc etc.
Do these scarecrow festivals have anything to do with flower arrangements I am teaching at my school ? No. I just found them interesting and they changed the image of scarecrow I had in my mind. I wanted to share this kind of festival with you. The website introduced above is written in Japanese which MAY not be shown on your computer screen in the way it should be.