Tado Shrine, in Tado, a small town about 8km from Kuwana in Mie Prefecture dates from the 8th century. Tado Shrine is connected with the 1500 year-old legend of a white horse that acted as a messenger for the local people's prayers to the kami (god), who lives on Mount Tado.
To this day a white horse is kept near the shrine and horses are a major part of Tado Shrine's big festival on 4th and 5th of May each year. Animal rightists should not despair, this is no Spanish donkey, the horse is only kept inside the small shrine for a few hours on special days and has a large open space all to himself for the rest of the time.
There are demonstrations of horseback archery (yabusame), a procession involving retainers in Edo Period costume escorting a young boy made up with white face paint and red lipstick, and the festival's highlight, known as ageuma of horses ridden by latter-day "samurai" trying to scale a 3m high muddy cliff. There are some good images of this on the shrine's website.
Access to Tado Shrine is from Kuwana on the Kintetsu Yoro Line. There is an infrequent bus to the shrine from the station or turn right out of Tado Station and then walk about 20 minutes left along the Tado River bank after you come to the bridge.
Guide to Nagoya
Buy Arimatsu Shibori
Japan Tado Shrine Tado hatsumode New Year
Tado Festival shrine yabusame
Wednesday, January 03, 2007