Story of the Bellybutton


In July 1969, the Furano residents' charter was enacted. A line of the charter stated that "we, the residents of Furano, stand at the center point of Hokkaido". Everything has a center. The center of the human body is the bellybutton. So, the center point of Hokkaido can be called Hokkaido's bellybutton. We wondered if there might be some way to embody this idea in folk entertainment, and link it to development of Furano's tourism and commerce…

Before we knew it, the ripples of that idea spread. In other words, the Hokkai Heso Matsuri ("Bellybutton Festival") all began from the residents' charter. In telling the tale of the birth and development of this festival, three key people must be mentioned: Mr. Shuho Kurigami, Mr. Tohachi Morita, and Mr. Eijiro Yokoo (all now deceased). Heso Matsuri came to life in its original form because of the devoted efforts and passion of those three men. Their enthusiasm led them to be nicknamed the "bellybutton buddies" and the "bellybutton trio".

The main feature of the festival is the bizarre and amazing stomach-art dance. This came from the ideas of people from the Suzuran shopping district, who suggested that "we need something unique for this festival. Something that beings the bellybutton to life". However, the organizers of the first festival had a hard time recruiting dancers, and after appealing to and coaxing Furano's young people, they finally managed to persuade 11 people to dance.In order for Hokkai Heso Matsuri to become the major event it is now, many people's hard work and cooperation was necessary. Especially thanks to the devotion of the "bellybutton trio" at the beginning, the Heso Matsuri has become famous all over Japan as the main Hokkaido summer festival, where 4000 dancers and 70,000 tourists gather over two days.

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