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since 2018

Newtown Mitake Society

Mitakeko is a type of group (voluntary regional group) that began in the middle of the Edo period. Kogumi is Ise-ko, Fuji-ko, etc., for the purpose of pilgrimage trips, lectures for the purpose of local events such as Koshin-kou and Jijin-kyo, and lectures for the purpose of economics and mutual aid such as Yorimo-ko Lecture and Inexhaustible Lecture, and Ontake Ko is one of the substitute lectures for the purpose of visiting Musashi Ontake Shrine. Even today, it is distributed in rural areas of the Kanto region and in the suburbs of the Tokyo metropolitan area. Local Ontake lecture groups are usually named “Nitta Lecture”, “Urayasu Lecture”, “Dobashi Lecture”, etc., and often use the regional name + lecture.

Most of the Mitakeko have been customarily followed since the Edo period, and are still passed down mainly by local farmers. However, due to the decline in the agricultural population due to urbanization, it has been forced to disband, or although it quits farming and works for a company, it is inherited as an ancestral family custom, and even if the lecture itself exists, the number of participants is gradually decreasing, and events may be simplified.

I grew up in a residential area called Tsukushino on the Den-en-toshi Line, but I had few opportunities to experience the history of the area before it was built. So I didn’t know about the scenery of the land before the construction and the seasonal events that local farmers ran, and I was surprised to learn that customs like Ontake Lectures are still going on after watching Mieko Ogura’s “Wolf Amulet.” However, when I investigated with interest, I found that local customs such as Ontake are often maintained by connections between families from farmers, and it is quite difficult for residents of “New Town” like me to become lecturers. Also, if you work in the city center for a long time like me, you will not have the opportunity to be involved in community activities such as residents’ associations, and you will have little contact with the community.

In the first place, community activities are premised on living in the area for a long time. Traditional events such as local festivals are run by “local” people who have lived in the area for a long time, and do not expect much participation from people who live in rental housing and move in 4-5 years, for example. I talked to a local person who still performs “lion dance” in Kawasaki, and he said that even if he taught the technique of lion dance from a young age, he would not be able to inherit the traditional event if he moved immediately after graduating from university for work reasons. On the other hand, modern people also feel that the place that suits their work and family life will become the city where they live. Rather than trying hard to get along with neighbors who don’t know if their values match, they choose to spend time with friends from their school days and workplaces.

However, while they are now able to live freely by being cut off from the land, they also have a less sense of being part of the community and society. I have a “home” built by my parents in Tsukushino. But if my parents die, I may have no reason to come back to the city. Still, I want something about being in this city, the roots of where I was born and raised.

New Town Ontake Kou will establish a “modern version of the lecture” that even if you are not a farmer or have not lived in a specific area for a long time, you can freely and easily participate without being tied to the region. As for the operation of the lecture, we will make use of online and digital mechanisms to create a system that allows people to easily participate in a form that suits the current era.

The purpose of this event is to create an opportunity for the traditional Ontake Lecturers, who live in the region and inherit the customs from their predecessors, and the New Town Ontake Lecturers, who seek a connection with the region and history while changing their place of residence, to experience the past history together through the revival of the historical custom of “Ontake Lecture” and to think about the future state of the region.