Intangible Folk Cultural Property
Every year, the Yagorodon procession begins at 2:00 AM on November 3. A Shinto ritual is held around the shrine to the beat of an okoshi daiko (rousing drum). At around 3:00 AM, the assembly of the giant Yagorodon doll begins. The body of Yagorodon is made of bamboo baskets and clothed with a massive plum-dyed hitoe (unlined cotton kimono). At about 5:00 AM, amidst the thunder of the Yagorodon okoshi daiko, Yagorodon is stood up on a four-wheel car body. When completed, Yagorodon stands 4.85 meters (16 feet) tall. At 1:00 PM, the hamakudari (procession to the sea) begins; pulled by local children, Yagorodon then parades through the streets.
Another Shinto ritual is held at the Osumi Chuo Community Center, where Yagorodon rests on his journey. In the yard of Iwagawa Elementary School, about 1,000 people participate in a tournament of martial arts such as judo, kendo, kyudo, and sumo as a divine offering. Babanodori Street is lined with stalls, and visitors on the shrine grounds are treated to amazake (sweet, mild sake) and konjac.
Legend has it that Yagorodon was either the incarnation of warrior-statesman Takenouchi no Sukune or the chief of the local Hayato Clan. In 1988, the Yagorodon Festival was designated as a Prefectural Intangible Folk Cultural Property. There are actually three Yagorodon Festivals in southern Kyushu; as written in Sangoku Meishozue (Geography of Southern Kyushu), the festival in Yamanokuchi, Miyazaki Prefecture is the eldest son; the festival in Soo, Kagoshima Prefecture is the second son; and the festival in Nichinan, Miyazaki Prefecture is the third son.