The parade of Tsuruga Yama floats in the Kehi Jingu shrine festival has a long history, which is believed to date back to the 16th century in the Muromachi period. Around the mid-17th century (at the beginning of the Edo period), as the port was experiencing prosperity, the Yama floats started to become even more extravagant, and at their peak featured 50 floats, both large and small, pulled in the yearly procession.
There were two types of Yama: “Oyama,” which were moved by the town, and “Koyama,” which were moved by individuals. The Koyama floats were the highlight of the festival, and had a great deal of work put into them by the merchants every year to create more elaborate designs. As time went on, the Oyama were no longer used, and the Koyama came to be the town floats, leading to the style used today.
However, due to the Second World War, the Yama float processions were put on hold temporarily. In July 1945, air raids over the town damaged about 80% of the urban area, and most of the Yama floats were destroyed, with only three remaining. Nevertheless, after the war, through sheer determination, the townspeople worked hard and brought back the Yama float procession.
Afterwards, a large number of Yama floats, parts, armor, and curtains were discovered that belonged to residents and the town, and in 1994, using these materials, the three Yama floats were brought back. Now, six floats can be seen enlivening the annual festival celebration.
Tsuruga Yama floats reflect the wealth and spirit of the local people against the backdrop of the prosperous port town of Tsuruga.