iCLA students, faculty, and staff from 18 countries joined Yamanashi’s biggest Shingen-ko Festival to date
On October 28th, 38 students joined the Shingen-ko Festival to walk in the largest parade of samurai in the world. The largest and most anticipated event in Yamanashi, the Shingen-ko Festival re-enacts Takeda Shingen’s Koshu Battalion Deployment to the Battle of Kawanakajima where he fought with rival warlord, Uesugi Kenshin. The parade boasts of more than 1000 samurai divided into 34 groups, each representing troops who would fight alongside Takeda Shingen. iCLA joined as the Takeda Jiro Nobuchika Troop.
38 iCLA students dressed up as samurai and ashigaru (foot soldiers). The Shingen-ko Festival emphasized faithfulness to the appearance of Sengoku Period soldiers – down to wearing waraji (straw sandals). The samurai armor was made by hand by past iCLA students. Although it was a physically demanding day-long event holding various weapons, flags, and battle instruments, iCLA students shone in the spotlights during the parade, with people of all ages in the audience excited to see iCLA students of many nationalities wearing samurai armor.
My favorite part was connecting with people in the crowd as we walked through the streets. They waved a bunch and seemed so happy that we were there. I felt like I was a part of the community. I also got to see just how much the festival means to people in Yamanashi.iCLA participant, Aidan
iCLA’s participation was organized with Professor William Reed, who has multiple years of experience joining the parade. The event was organized as part of the iEXPerience Program which organizes field trips in Yamanashi so international students can gain a deeper understanding into Yamanashi’s culture, arts, and history under the guidance of iCLA professors and local professionals. While iCLA’s students have joined the parade in the past, this is the first time for iCLA to join the Shingen-ko Festival as an independent group wholly made up of students from iCLA. iCLA’s participation in the festival was also covered in an article by Mainichi Shimbun (Japanese).
This 50th anniversary of the Shingen-ko Festival was especially memorable as Takeda Shingen and his military strategist Yamamoto Kansuke were played by women – actresses Tominaga Ai and Shirasu Keiko, respectively. The entire event was held from October 27th to 29th and featured performances and stalls selling festival foods and drinks spanning the entire downtown Kofu, the Maizuru Castle Park, and surrounding areas of Kofu Station, with the main event being the parade held on October 28th.