25 minutes by car from Atsumi Onsen. The Yamato area in the northern part of the Atsumi is a treasure trove of spiritual spots. It’s not a famous place, but the sacred air of the giant trees and shrines that stand quietly purifies the mind. Here, we will introduce a course where you can fully enjoy the Yamato area where the beautiful scenery of Japan remains.
It is a must to visit the Yamato area,”Tamasugi”. Tamasugi is a 1500year old, nationally designated natural monument that stands a little away from the center of the village (※). It has been cherished by the locals for a long time as a sacred tree of the village.
To encounter Tamasugi, you will go through the shrine gate and go between the cedar forests up the stairs. After a while, a giant tree that gives off a different presence from any cedar that you may have ever encountered. When you run up and approach the tree, your first words will be, “What’s that!?”. A magnificent giant tree appears in front of you. Its appearance is overwhelming and it will make you speechless. It seems that there is almost 20m just around the trunk of tree.
There is a path around Tamasugi so that you can walk around it, and if you take a break just behind it, you can see the village over Tamasugi. This is the moment when you feel that this sacred tree has been watched over the village for many years.
It’s kind of refreshing to visit Tamasugi. When standing in front of this giant tree all the stress that you feel from your everyday life seems so small and meaningless. If you feel that you’ve been trying too hard lately, why not visit Tamasugi and take a slow and deep breath?
“Yamairagawa Kabuki” is a historic classical performing art designated as an intangible folk cultural property of Yamagata Prefecture. It began back in almost over 400 years ago. The record says the first performance took place at Churenji (temple) on Yudonosan (mountain), which is one of Dewa Sanzan (three representative mountains in Dewa area). The play was performed as thanks to the Tetsumonkai-shonin, who saved the village by exterminating the plague. This activity has been attracting attention because you are able to experience a digest of the historic Yamairagawa Kabuki.
Kumadori is what you experience first. It is a unique makeup method that is used in Kabuki. After applying a white powder on the face, red and blue streaks are applied to the face. Makeup can be original or can be done by looking at a design sample.
Miekiri is an impressive pose of Kabuki, and a teacher, who is also an actor, will teach you how to strike it. If you act to the sound of woodblock hit, you will feel like a Kabuki actor!
Oshiguma is “gantaku” (face print), something like “gyotaku” (fish print). This is a type of art where you press the cloth against your face with makeup on and printing the makeup onto the cloth. It will surely be a work of art that you will want to decorate your room!?
When you hear Kabuki, it’s easy to imagine that it’s performed spectacularly in Ginza, but there are still rural performing arts like Yamairagawa Kabuki in Japan. However, it is also a fact that there are only a few opportunities to experience this. A type of kabuki that is so open and welcoming may be rare in Japan. If you want to travel a little differently than usual, why not add the Yamairagawa Kabuki experience as an accent to your trip?
Source: Yamairagawa (https://www.yamairagawa.com/)