Tokyobling's Blog

Teruhime Matsuri Parade

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on May 5, 2014

Last weekend I visited the annual Teruhime Matsuri Parade (照姫まつり) in Shakujii Park (石神井公園), a wonderful little park in Tokyo’s Nerima Ward (練馬区). I was joined with about 128 000 others to see the 100 volunteers dressing up and acting the part of three historic nobles and their entourage. The nobles in question were the prominent members of the Toshima Clan, which has given their name to Toshima Ward, Toshima Station and many other places in Tokyo. Their historic castle used to be located in this very park. The clan was most powerful from the 12th century to about 1470 when they were ousted by a rival clan, the Uesugi.

The festival started in 1988 to promote the area and its history and the volunteers taking past are selected during an audition held for the people living in Nerima Ward. The legend that is the basis of the parade is said to have taken place in 1477 when the castle was besieged by a vassal of the Uesugi clan. Rather than to risk capture the lord of the castle jumped into the lake on horseback and disappeared in the deep waters. His daughter Teruhime was so distraught that she jumped after him and she too disappeared. However there is nothing to support this legend in historical documents so it is most likely not true at all.

Apart from the festival I also got a chance to see the beautiful Shakujii Park, which is lined by some very rich mansion houses and surrounds a very nice almost lake like pond. The area is considered one of the most attractive places inside Nerima Ward. Nerima Ward however usually fails to be find itself on any top spots of attractiveness lists, even though it is widely acknowledged to be the safest of all the 23 Tokyo wards and also the one in my opinion that is the most “European in feel”. Remember where you read it first – I see great things in the future of Nerima Ward!

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