Horse-appreciation parade hits Iwate streets for 1st time in 3 years

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Children ride horses in decorative dress during the Chagu Chagu Umakko festival in Takizawa on Saturday.

MORIOKA — Gussied-up horses marched along 14 kilometers, carrying children through the streets of Iwate Prefecture on Saturday in a traditional folk festival that was held for the first time in three years.

Chagu Chagu Umakko, designated as a national intangible folklore cultural asset, is a festival created to pay homage to horses for their work during the rice-planting period and to also express hopes for a bountiful harvest.

The festival name includes the words chagu chagu, which represent the ringing bells that are part of the decorative dress adorning the animals.

The parade of 58 horses, with children wearing braided straw hats and hachimaki headbands on horseback, set off from Onikoshi Sozen Shrine in Takizawa and concluded at Morioka Hachimangu shrine in Morioka.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Chagu Chagu Umakko festival parades through central Morioka on Saturday.

The coronavirus pandemic caused the event to be canceled the past two years, so the number of spectators who gathered to view the parade this time was high.

“I’m so glad the festival was held this year. Children’s faces light up on horseback,” said a 70-year-old woman from Takizawa.

“I felt a little embarrassed because so many people were watching, but it was fun,” said a 10-year-old girl who rode on a horse for the first time.