The 23rd of September was the 89th edition of the Fude Matsuri, in Kumano, Japan. This Brush Festival was held online during the last 3 years, but finally, it is back in Kumano town!
The Fude Matsuri is a festival held each year on the day of the Autumn Equinox, usually September 23rd, in Kumano, Hiroshima. It honors Fude and Fude artisans, there is a lot to do and to see, if you love calligraphy, beauty and other traditional crafts revolving around brushes, this is the place to celebrate.
It’s not the first time I attend, but it was very different this time as I was there with my husband and daughter- pretty amazing and emotional.
I did not have time to browse the Fude booths because my priority was to show my daughter the performances and activities in the festival and introducing her to my friends based in Kumano, they wanted to spend a little time with her. You can imagine how special this was for me, quite extraordinary and unforgettable.
In the upcoming days, I will share a little post about my trip to Japan but in the meantime, here is a little overview of what we have seen this year at the Fude Matsuri and some recommendations in case you are thinking of going in the future.
If you love Fude, it cannot get any better than that. Everywhere you look you see Fude; you can meet the artisans and share a special moment with them. We can purchase brushes, see calligraphy and dance performances and other traditional demonstrations. You can even participate in calligraphy competitions or workshops, it’s quite a dream for the passionate brush lover!
Do not forget to check the program on the Fude Matsuri official website beforehand, and do not hesitate to ask for directions or help to the staff wearing the traditional blue happi kimonos, you cannot miss them.
This time, we rented a car so we drove to Kumano. My husband has no issues driving in Japan despite the language barrier. We took advantage of that to be able to move around and be more free to go anywhere we needed during our trip. There are several ways to get to Kumano, by bus or train and taxi I believe, but I think the easiest way to travel to Kumano is to take the train to Yano and then a taxi, in total it’s about 30 minutes.
Next year, if I am at the Fude Matsuri, I think I will catch up and get quite a few Fude! Keep in mind there is a discount at the booths. It won’t compensate for your plane ticket but depending on how many you buy, it can make it worth while!
I wasn’t able to browse the Fude booths this time due to lack of time, but I managed to get my hands on this fun t-shirt as I was getting some water at a local shop. Fuderin is the official mascot of the Fude Matsuri.
The Chikuhodo staff was wearing this t-shirt at the Festival, it’s unfortunately not for sale but I wanted to show it to you. They kindly gifted it to me as a souvenir but if you saw someone with this t-shirt, it means they work with Chikuhodo.
I also received some calligraphy brushes as gifts from my friends in Kumano (they have a calligraphy manufacture), biscuits and other little gifts, so even if I didn’t have the chance to buy brushes at the booths this year, I still brought home a few amazing souvenirs!
About the Fude Matsuri
The Fude exhibitors
There were 23 Fude exhibitors this year. They are all competitors, however, on the Fude Matsuri, I heard they feel like a big family. It’s fun to see them side by side and it’s lovely to see the Presidents helping and walking around. I cannot believe that I have gotten a chance to meet so many of them, and so many of you since I started my blog in 2012! We have built this unbeliavable connection and I can feel your love and energy, it makes this journey so so special, thank you so much again for your passion and for continuing this journey with me!
I am happy to share the list of Fude exhibitors for 2023, this is amazing as you know exactly who was there, and who is likely to be there next year!
|広島筆産業㈱||HIROSHIMA FUDE SANGYO|
|㈱NUMBER EIGHT||NUMBER EIGHT|
So many Fude…
10’000 Fude are hung at the sides all along the stairs that lead to Sakakiyama Shrine “the 10’000 Fude passage”, they are there for you to feel them.
This happens when you tell my daughter that she is allowed to touch them…
At the bottom of this Fude stairs passage, the Fudenoichi (brush market) happens. At the top of the stairs, there is the Sakakiyama Shrine where more celebrations are held during that day.
There are some workshops, for example to make a calligraphy brush (the final steps of the brush) or to make washi paper. It’s a small fee to participate and you get to keep the brush and the paper. No need to speak Japanese!
There are many other activities related to calligraphy, also competitions and classes.
By the way, the brushes that served their purpose are kept, then gathered together for this Festival as there is a ritual of burning the brushes that reached the end of their working lives.
You can go there anytime between 10:00 and 16:30 and participate by signing or leaving a message in the guestbook if you wish, or you can just pick some brushes, place them into the fire and say thank you for their service.
Here are some of the performances of the Festival:
This is the Kumano High School Calligraphy Club creating a calligraphy artwork on a giant canvas.
Higan-bune (Ritual hauling and spinning of a float)
The higan-bune float is decorated and pulled across town up to Sakakiyama Shrine. It’s dragged and spun very vigorously for the show and for fun by strong men in traditional happi costumes.
There is a long rope attached to the float for men and children to pull it across the streets of Kumano. The local children get to pull by turns and as we knew the team in charge, Alice (our daughter) was invited and had her own spot besides the rope to pull as well, this was so much fun for her, she told us the ship was so heavy!! She was very dedicated to the task and was truly delighted to be part of it!
The float arrives at Sakakiyama Shrine at 15:00, where more demonstrations continue.
This is a giant calligraphy performance by Artist 赤平泰処 ( Taisho Akahira ). The art work is then displayed for visitors to contemplate.
Unfortunately I missed the performance, and there are other performances that I missed, for example the Kagura Performances by the Kamiishi Kagura Troupe from Kita-Hiroshima. I hope I will be able to see them perform either there at the Festival next year, or somewhere else in Hiroshima. I am working on that!
Once the float has arrived at Sakakiyama Shrine, then the Fude Odori (brush dances) start.
And at the end, they throw sweets and mochi rice cakes for the visitors to catch.
Stay close to the float so you can have a better spot for catching them!
There are performances happening in the Community Zone (around Kumano Junior High School).
This is where you can sit down (hopefully with a parasol), enjoy some rest, eat and drink delicious food.
Last but not least, here are some little recommendations that can be quite helpful:
- It’s quite hot even though it’s September. If it’s sunny, it’s a great idea to bring a parasol (sun umbrella) and don’t forget sun screen! The large community zone where the food stalls are located and musical performances take place has no shade areas.
- Take cash with you for your Fude purchases, I think most places only accept cash.
- Learn just a couple of words in Japanese like hello, this, here, thank you, sorry, etc it helps a lot!
- Remember also the Fudenosato Kobo, the Fude museum, as there are also some exhibitions happening there and there is also a Kumanofude Select Shop inside.
- Make sure you are informed of the planning for the performances should you wish to see them live. The Fude Matsuri official website is here.
- Do not hesitate to take part in the little workshops, calligraphy, fude making or paper making for example.
- Always keep with you some mosquito repellent (you might even wear some !) – tiger mosquitos are active day and night. We recommend this combo for before and, just in case, the red one is for after 😀
We have uploaded a video with moments we picked up from the Fude Matsuri so you can see some of the performances. Maybe you can start practising the Fude Odori 😀
See you next year at the Fude Matsuri!