Chiku Raku is a festival in the small mountain town of Taketa where thousands of Bamboo lanterns are scattered around the old streets and stone staircases of Taketa in Oita Ken.
Chiku Raku translates to “Fun with Bamboo”. While Taketa (lit. Bamboo Field) has long been famous for it’s bamboo covered hillsides and bamboo craft I am told the festival is only about 30 years old and was instituted when it was felt the bamboo groves were getting out of control.
Last Sunday, we went to see Chiku Raku and it was even more fun than I had expected. Arriving in the afternoon we had a look around and saw some of the preparations. We even helped light some candles. Next we walked up the hill to the ruins of Okajyo castle which consists of the stone walls with nothing remaining of the buildings that were once on top. The castle is on the top of a mountain ridge and we enjoyed the amazing views, the perfect condition of the stone walls and the autumn colours of all the trees planted there.
As night fell we we walked back through the town and it’s rivers of candles. Many streets were lined with bamboo lights and special attention had been been paid to the large stone staircases. The biggest staircase leads to a shrine past a set of 12 stone Buddhist monks who (if memory serves) are some 1000 years old.
There was also a festival atmosphere, we had traditional festive foods for dinner, my favourite snack was a smallish rainbow trout salted and then roasted whole on a stick over coals. His bones were actually edible after that – Naoko’s mum ate the entire fish head and all!