Every year, a petal of snow tells us the advent of winter in Akita. Sometimes it amuses us with the splendid scenery covering everything it touches, but sometimes it annoys us with its uncontrollable amount and disasters originated from it. In Yokote city, people make the best use of snow by banking and curving snow so that people can spend time together for chatting and sharing delicacies inside. This snow-made house is called Kamakura. In order to see the beginning of this unique tradition, we need to trace back to 400 years ago when three different customs of Kamakura existed.
The history of Kamakura
In the city Samurai lived, people offered sacred Sake and rice cakes to pray for the peaceful life and healthy growth of children. In contrast, in the city merchants lived, people honored water gods and prayed for clear water by offering Sake and rice cakes to the altar inside. Also, it was popular among children to play inside the banked-snow. Then, with the passage of time, these three roots of Kamakura culture were mixed up and it became common that children serve rice cakes and Amazake (sweet drink made from fermented rice) to guests while saying “Haittetanse!” (Please feel free to come inside!) or “Ogattetanse!” (Please pray for water gods!).The Kamakura festival
Every year, around the middle of February, you can experience this Kamakura tradition at the Kamakura festival held in Yokote city. During the festival, you can even see other events such as “Dondo-yaki” (People burn up New Year decorations to return them to the gods), or “Tori-oi”. (Children sing a song of chasing away birds damaging crops) You will be definitely surprised when you realized how warm it is inside of Kamakura with the thermal effect of snow and generous hospitality of Akita people.