Nejo Castle Site (Designated Aomori Prefecture’s Important Cultural Property)
Nejo Castle was chosen as one of Japan's Top 100 castles and was designated as a National Historic Site in 1941.
The castle was built in 1334 by Nambu Moroyuki, a general from the late Kamakura Period to the Nanbokucho Period, and prospered as the center of the Hachinohe region for about 300 years until it was reassigned to a new domain.
The main building, workshops, barns, stables, and other buildings have been restored faithfully to their original state, and Najo Castle continues to retain its appearance from the Azuchi-Momoyama period.
At the onsite craft workshop, visitors can try their hand at painting small wooden horses called yawata-uma, or making miniature eboshi (traditional Japanese headdresses) for the Enburi festival.
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Yawata-uma: Yawata-uma are one of the traditional local handicrafts in Aomori’s southern region mainly in Hachinohe. One of the three most popular horse-themed handicrafts in Japan, yawata-uma is a craft born from the wisdom behind the Hachinohe way of life.
In the Hachinohe region, horses decorated with brightly colored harnesses are said to have carried brides, and the patterns on the yawata-uma reflect those elaborate garments.
Such yawata-uma are given as souvenirs for celebrations and other occasions and are still displayed in every local household as a symbol of happiness. Eboshi hats for the Eboshi festival: Enburi, a folk performance in the Hachinohe area, is said to have started in the Middle Ages and reflects the earnest wishes of the people of Hachinohe for a good harvest as they wait for spring.
The hat worn by the dancers, called tayu, resembles a horse's head and is decorated with festive figures of deities such as Ebisu and Daikokuten or cranes and tortoises.(Ebisu and Daikokuten belong to the Seven Deities of Good Fortune, Ebisu being the god of fishery and commerce, and Daikokuten, the god of good harvest, good fortune, prosperity, and wealth.)
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