Love for dogs
Yuzawa city, located in the most southeastern part of Akita, is famous for a heavy snowfall. The people of this region have loved dogs (in Japanese “Inu”) by calling them “Inu-kko.” Their unwavering love for dogs has lead to the creation of an annual festival called the “Inu-kko Festival.” This unique dog festival has been held for about 400 years. A lots of “Inu-kko” snow statues and snow shrines are made in Yuzawa city, and they are lit up by candlelight when evening comes.Dog’s festival
It takes about one and a half hours by train from Akita Station to Yuzawa Station. Many cute and large Akita dogs made of snow welcome you in front of the station. Children wearing ski outfits jump up onto these snow statues. Each Inu-kko has a different height and face so you can find your favorite one. Since it’s a dog festival, many visitors bring their dogs. The breed of dog is a wide variety: from Pomeranian to Chihuahua, and of course, Akita Inu, which is an indigenous dog of Akita Prefecture but now difficult to see even in Akita. One of the main events of the festival is Shinto ritual of praying pet dogs (Aiken-Kigansai, in Japanese). With solemn atmosphere, a Shinto priest stands in front of the snow shrine to recite a Shinto prayer for dogs and exorcise evil spirits of these pets. Dog-lovers surround the priest to pray for health and happiness of their dogs, which are one of their family members. After reciting a Shinto prayer by a Shinto priest, the dog and its owner visit the shrine of snow one after another.The origin of Inukko-festival
The origin of Inu-kko Festival can be traced back to the beginning of the Edo period (the early 17C). There were a large group of robbers called “Hakuto” in Yuzawa area. This thief group informed which house will be attacked by setting up notice board the day before an assault, and hit the house on the scheduled date with burning torches. People were very afraid of these robbers, but only until the lord of Yuzawa wiped out this large bandit. People were profoundly grateful for the lord’s achievement, and began to keep a guard dog to protect the village from such a thief group. From the subsequent New Year, local people made dog-shaped ornaments by using the powder of rice and placed them with candles under the eaves of each house to pray for continuous peace. During this period when dog ornaments were placed, children visited every house in the village, and sung the song which alerted people of the danger of thieves. From each house, children could get some beverages and foods. They enjoyed these gifts inside of snow houses until the late. This has been thought of as the beginning of the Inu-kko Festival. From around 1930, the huge snow statues were created in the park. After that, the festival gradually became large scale and now it is counted as one of the major events which represents the Yuzawa area. At the present, over 100 snow Inu-kko stand during the festival.
At the festival, Inu-kko’s ornaments, which are the origin of snow-statues of are sold. The small ornaments, which are called “Shinko crafts,” are created by kneading grinded rice. The animal created as a Shinko craft is not only dogs but also cranes and turtles which have been thought of as auspicious animals.Shinko crafts
At the festival, Inu-kko’s ornaments, which are the origin of snow-statues of Inu-kko, are sold. The small ornaments, which are called “Shinko crafts,” are created by kneading grinded rice. The animal created as a Shinko craft is not only dogs but also cranes and turtles which have been thought of as auspicious animals.
The wide variety of events such as local food stands, drums playing, and winter fireworks liven up the festival. Even if you are not dog-lovers, the cuteness of many dogs will make you feel calm and comfortable.
About Inukko dog festival
Inukko dog festival is local tradition of Yuzawa area and it has 400 years of history. Snow-made halls and dogs stand along, and at night, candles inside the halls are lit and you can enjoy the atmosphere of fantasy.
- Event date
- Second saturdays of Feburary and the following day
- Yuzawa city tourism commodity Association
- Around Yuzawa city hall outside
- 1-1, Satake, Yuzawa city outside
- The number of bleachers
- Bleachers Rates
- Propriety of bleachers Pre-registration
- Bleachers in advance How to Apply
- Group discount rate of bleachers
- Number of car spaces
- Parking Fee
- Corresponding at the time of bad weather
- Rain or shine