The Tenzushi Dance is a festival during which nine holy statues, their faces covered in a red cloth, are carried from the Tenzushi Shrine in the small town of Kose, Kofu City to the “Suzuninomiya Suwa Shrine” in the town of Shimokajiya along a roughly 1 km long path, built for troops in a war long past. This traditional Tenzushi Dance is said to be the oldest form of puppetry in Japan, and has been designated as an important folk cultural property. Although the dance’s exact origins aren’t clear, it has a long history. It’s said that before the town of Kose was built, 12 gods descended from heaven to sing and dance. After a while, two of the gods returned to heaven and one drowned in the Kama Lake at Nishiaburakawa Town, but the remaining nine gods continued to sing and dance. This is believed to be the origin of the town of Kose. Later, officials created statues and ordered a dance performance to honour the 9 deities- this would be the start of the famous Tenzushi Dance. The image of these red hooded statues being carried alongside dancers makes you feel almost as if you’ve slipped back through time. The tradition is passed on by local volunteers from the “Tenzushi Dance Preservation Society,” who work hard to ensure this wonderful tradition is not forgotten.

“Tenzushi Dance” Opens on the Sunday before the 10th of February every year, starts at 12 o’clock in the afternoon.