The Yokote Kamakura Festival, (Yokote no Yuki Matsuri) has been an annual event on February 15 and 16 for the past 400 years. Originating in the city of Yokote in southeastern Akita Prefecture. the festival features many igloo-like snow houses, called kamakura, which are built at various locations across the city.
Within each kamakura there is a snow altar dedicated to the water deity, to whom people pray for ample water. A charcoal brazier is set up to provide warmth and grill rice cakes. Eeach year 100 kamakura (snow huts) which seat up to 5 adults are built. Children inside the kamakura invite festival visitors into their kamakura and offer them rice cakes and amazake, a type of warm sweet rice wine with zero or very low alcohol content. In return, the visitors make an offering to the water deity at the altar.
The Kamakurakan Hall preserves a couple of kamakura all year round in a small -10 degree Celsius room, making it possible for visitors to see these snow houses even during warmer months. In the area close to the hall, many kamakura, snow sculptures and festival food stalls can be found.
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