Shimotsuki Festival in Toyama-go (Toyama Valley)

Nestled at the foot of the Japanese Southern Alps, with some peaks rising up to over 3000 meters, Toyama Valley is a vestige of Japan’s mountain area of a bygone era. It is home to many ancient cultural rituals such as Shimotsuki Festival, a mysterious 800-year-old festival, held in every December. Late at night, in the precincts of an old shrine deep within the mountains, some village people boil water in a big pot while village elders offer prayers. The people then dance throughout the night, wearing a mask of a god. It was designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Property in 1979. It is also well known that this festival influenced the storywriters of the famous animation film, “Spirited Away”.