One lovely winter tradition in Japan’s colder regions is the “Kamakura”, which is a snow-house. It is said that the city of Yokote, Akita prefecture, has been celebrating a “Matsuri” or festival, featuring these traditional snow houses for the past 450 years! Though made of snow, these “Kamakura” are places of light and warmth in the winter cold. The bright light of the hearth inside, contrasted with the pure white snowy landscape makes for a beautiful seasonal scene.
For over 420 years, the city of Yokote has celebrated the Kamakura Festival in the winter. Originally, Kamakura were made by each family, but as the festival grew more popular and widespread, people get together to help out with the building process of these igloo-like structures.
Inside the Kamakura you can see a family happily enjoying one another’s company while savoring “amazake,” a sweet fermented rice drink, and “mochi,” a rice cake. Inside of each Kamakura, “Mizugami-sama,” a God of Water, can be found enshrined. People who celebrate this festival, whilst relishing in the amazake and mochi, make an offering to this god.
Thousands of Mini-Kamakura are made by pre-school to high school students, and each one contains a candle and a wish. These Mini-Kamakura here line a riverbank, creating a very romantic scenery.
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(Photos and story credit: https://www.city.yokote.lg.jp/kanko/1004035/1004590.html & https://www.yokotekamakura.com/event/3-5/