Shirakawa-go Harukoma Dance and Kogai Festival
As with most festivals and joyous events in Japan, dance is the centre of festivities here, too. For the Harukoma Dance, locals dance disguised as the Seven Gods of Fortune (known as Shichi-fuku-jin in Japanese) and Maiko (or apprentice geisha). These entertainers are the harbingers of spring. In the New Year, which was indeed in early spring in the old calendar, they parade around the inns, restaurants, and souvenir shops in the village. It is a custom for people in the houses visited to treat the entertainers to sake or give them money gifts. The Kogai Festival was originally for breeders of silkworms to pray for a lucrative business with healthy silkworms, but in recent years the performances have been confined to wedding ceremonies and other shrine related festivities.