The 56th Noboribetsu Hell Festival Report

The Noboribetsu Hell Festival is finished for this year, and it was spectacular! From August 23 through August 25, approximately 65,000 visitors joined us for this very special Hokkaido event! (There were about 58,000 last year, so we are thrilled to realize that more people are excited about it, too!)

Day 1
On the first day, the opening ceremony welcoming Yukijin, the guardian deity of our onsen, in nearby Hell Valley was held. The rain that had fallen all day miraculously stopped just in time for the Demon Fireworks at the very start of the ceremony. It was an auspicious beginning!

Day 2
The second day dawned bright and sunny and turned out to be perfect weather for the festival. Crowds of people joined to see the events, including the Noboribetsu Elementary School Marching Band.

In Sengen Park, opposite Dai-ichi Takimotokan, a brass band made up of local students performed and….

…Kumamai (Bear Dances), too!

Then, just as the sun was going down, our very own Hokkai Ideyu Daiko gave one of their amazing performances in front of the waterfall.

After the sun disappeared and the last drum notes faded, the Demon King appeared! Enma the Great determines who will go to heaven or hell. It’s difficult to tell his size from these photos, but he was impressively large as his float passed.

Sometimes, though, Enma stopped and turned his gaze to the crowd. When he did so, his gaze changed from gentle to fierce, his eyes blazing. At that moment, there was no mistaking the power and dignity of this six meter tall king.

Afterward, it was time for the Demon Dance! It is a celebratory dance that everyone, from staff to guests at each hotel in Noboribestu Onsen, happily joins.

Dancers wear demon faces, red yukata, and join together on the main street.

As always, it was a very fun evening!

Building on the momentum of the Demon Dance, the Demon Omikoshi arrived carried by dozens of men! Normally, these one ton red demon statues sit in front of Noboribetsu Station, but during Hell Festival we honor it by carrying it along the street. (This was the mysterious object under the blue tarp in our previous post.)

There is also a Demon Omikoshi traditionally carried by women. A little smaller than the other, it has no less power and strength. As they make their way around town, we call it the Oni-mikoshi (Demon Omikoshi) Rampage!

Finally, because this is an onsen town, their walk ends with a shower of onsen water! It is a perfect end to a fun-filled day.

Day 3
The last day of the festival opened with good weather and slightly cooler temperatures which drew even more people out onto Noboribetsu Onsen’s main street.

Local entertainment started at noon with the Kumamai (Bear Dance) as well as…

…performances by local drum teams!

Visitors were also excited to see Dai-ichi Takimotokan’s group, Hokkai Ideyu Daiko, perform once again, too!

In the evening, the Demon King appeared once more, and the Demon Dance resumed!

There are so many dancers and the feeling is so wonderful that the groups mix and mingle, dancing together along the street.

That evening, Takimaru-kun came out to join the fun, too!

He was so excited to join the event, and everyone was very happy to see him!

Finally, Hell Festival ended as it began.

Fireworks in Jigokudani bid farewell to the Demon King until his return next summer. We hope you will be able to join us.

We also hope you will visit soon to enjoy the Harvest Festival, a delicious celebration of the season!