> Lord Kenshin Festival

Lord Kenshin Festival

What is Lord Kenshin Festival?

The Kenshin Festival has been held every year since the Showa era without a single interruption dispite turbulent times during and after the war and after the war, thanks to the people of Joetsu.

The first Kenshin Festival was held at Kasugayama Shrine, sponsored by the youth groups of Takada City, Naoetsu City, and Kasuga Village (now all part of Joetsu City) on September 13, 1926 (Taisho 15). At that time, a celebration was held at Kasugayama Shrine, including a lecture by a master, sumo wrestling, sword dances and other events were held.

Then mayor of Takada, Kawai Naoji was strongly involved in the establishment of the Kenshin Festival. Mayor Kawai respected Kenshin as a warrior, of course, but also respected his personal side: the reading of Buddhist scriptures and Confucian scholarship, his hobbies of Waka traditional poetry, Japanese tea ceremony, and Noh music.

Although the military atmosphere grew stronger and Kenshin's image as a warrior grew in the festival years before World War II, not only his spirit as a soldier but also his "humanity," were celebrated, as advocated by Mayor Kawai. It is the strength of these values which have helped the Kenshin Festival continue during and after the war.

In the local area, even in the age of turbulence that Warring States period constituted, the legend that Uesugi Kenshin invited the people to Kasugayama castle once a year and disregarded his daily work remained, and this too is said to have given rise to the Festival.

  • War Cry War Cry
  • Re-enactment of the Battle of Kawanakajima Re-enactment of the Battle of Kawanakajima

Who is Uesugi Kenshin?

Rich in intelligence, respected for righteousness. This is the introduction of Uesugi Kenshin, warrior of the Warring States period.

Uesugi Kenshin was the youngest son born to Nagao Tamekage , who was a noble guardsman. Kenshin was given the childhood name of Torachiyo, or "Thousand Generation Tiger." In1536, because of the illness of his father, Tamekege's title was given to Kenshin's older brother Harukage, and Kenshin moved to Rinsenji Temple beneath Kasugayama in Takada, where he lived and was educated from the years 7~14. It is said that the military commander Kenshin's love of learning and deep religious heart was cultivated in this era. Following that, Kenshin went through the coming of age ceremony, received the name of his father, and took over the role of noble guardsman from his sickly brother.

Uesugi Kenshin's battle history begins when he went through the coming of age ceremony in 1543. Since then, fought against famous generals in the Warring States period, such as Takeda Harunobu (Shingen), Hojo Masayasu and Oda Nobunaga, but it is said that these battles was joined not for personal gain but out of a sense of righteousness. Particularly famous is the battle of Kawanakajima, where Kenshin fought more than five times to help Murakami Yoshikiyo, who had his land stolen by Takeda Harunobu, Takanashi Masayori and others. However, when his enemy Harunobu Takeda had his salt supplies shut off by Imagawa Ujisane, Kenshin criticized Imagawa's policy, and sent salt to Takeda. This episode became particularly famous. It is said to have been the origin of the story of "sending salt to the enemy," praised by Confucian scholar Rai Sanyo of the Edo period.

The character of Kenshin's public banner "Bi" was taken from "Bishamonten," whom Kenshin believed he was reincarnated from. Kenshin was also called the Echigo dragon from the "flag of disturbed dragon" flown during a general attack. On the other hand, while known mainly for war, it is said that Kenshin composed waka classical poetry and was skilled in calligraphy. He also showed takent in domestic politics and diplomacy, and cultivated blue ramie (a plant which becomes a raw material for clothing), and spread it throughout the country through the Sea of Japan and used it as a financial source. In the 6th year of Tensho 6 (1578), at the age of 49, he closed the curtain of his life,living his entire life without getting married. His life was a series of battles. It can be said he was a warrior of a different color.

Reference: "Uesugi Kenshin" by Moriaki Hanagasaki

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