Let The Folk Songs Carry You Through Tamba Sasayama Dekansho Festival

The History of Dekanshobushi

Tamba Sasayama Dekansho Matsuri (Festival) is a folk song festival held every year on the 15th and the 16th of August, on the Sannomaru Square of Sasayama Castle. Although the festival has been part of the Japanese culture for over 60 years, the folk song Dekanshobushi has been around for much longer.

It is believed that Dekanshobushi is an altered version of an Edo Period (1603-1868) folk song from Sasayama area, called Mitsubushi. There are a lot of stories, however, about how this hayashi word came to be (hayashi word: meaningless word added to a song for rhythmical effect). The most likely version is that “dekansho” chanting came to be as a result of the misinterpretation of the original word “dokkonsho” as today’s popular “dokkoisho”. Other than that, you can hear various interesting stories. One says that that word originated from the term “let’s head out for work”, since Sasayama was one of Tamba’s villages famous as a “working away from home” place – many people were coming there to work as sake brewers. There is also a version where this term was invented by students who combined famous philosophers’ names – Descartes’, Kant’s, and Schopenhauer’s, to create the word “dekansho”. In the lyrics you can hear about well-known places, sceneries, and specialties, of that period, but also many interesting facts about today’s places and specialties as well, since the lyrics have been adding up to this day for more than 300 years.

What to See at Dekansho Festival

The festival starts with a song about sake-brewing of the Tamba chief brewers’ union. After breaking the sake barrel open, everybody gets to try the local Japanese sake, and then – the dancing contest (kyoenkai), and the yagura dance begin. It is a great way to liven up the gathering with everyone dancing the traditional yagura dance, a sight worth to behold or to partake in – the choice is yours. If you like to enjoy your festivals more actively, and decide to try out your Japanese-traditional-festival-dancing skills, you can learn about the dance on a lecture held before the (mass) dance by a lecturer from the so-called Dekanshobushi Perservation Association.

As the grand finale of the yagura dance on the day 2 of the festival, you’ll get to admire the mesmerizing 2000 fireworks lighting up the night sky of Sasayama.

You should also take a look at the paper lanterns illustrated by local elementary school students, which are displayed in the area around the castle (jokamachi area), and other city decorations made by the locals. Another way to take in the marvelous atmosphere of Sasayama, is to separate from the festival’s crowd, and explore the rest of the city’s charming sights by taking a little walk.

* Mind that the festival’s events and such vary each year.


Event: Tamba Sasayama Dekansho Festival
Held: on the 15th and the 16th of August
Address: Sasayama, Kitashinmachi 2-3 Sasayama Castle Sannomaru Square
Phone Number: 079-552-1111 (Sasayama City Commerce, Industry, and Tourism Division)
Website: http://dekansho.jp/ (Japanese)
Access: get off at Sasayama-guchi Station of JR Fukuchiyama Line, then ride the Shinki Green Bus bound for Sasayama, get off at Sasayama-Honmachi bus stop, and walk for about 10 minutes”