For those of you who are familiar with Japanese history, you’ve more than likely heard of the Taira clan (also known as the Heike) and the Genpei War. For those of you who aren’t…
The Taira clan fought the Minamoto Clan (also known as the Genji) during the Genpei war, where they were basically obliterated at the battle of Dan-no-Ura. (Side Note: This is also the origin for the samurai-faced crabs found around Japan.)
However, what is not so well known is what happened afterward. Somehow, someway, a princess and a few remnants from the Taira clan survived and fled to the little mountain village of Shiiba (椎葉), nestled in the mountains of Miyazaki Prefecture. Eventually, word reached the Minamoto that she was there, and they sent a loyal general to finish off the Taira. However, as most stories go, the general immediately fell in love with the princess. His duty to his lords would not allow him to stay, so he returned to claim that his mission was accomplished. However, once a year he would return to his love.
This homecoming is still celebrated every year in Shiiba, which is now a town with a population of around 1,000. There is a weekend-long festibal culminating with a parade up and down the one main street along a mountainside.
So if you want to celebrate with the descendants of a clan once thought to be destroyed, head to the little town of Shiiba in Miyazaki.