Prayers for a bountiful harvest and safety at the 2024 Hokuyuu Land Improvement District Etai-betsu Dam Opening Ceremony

Thursday, May 2, 2024

On May 1 (Wed.), under a clear blue spring sky, the 2024 Hokuryu Land Improvement District Etai-betsu Dam water-entering ceremony was solemnly held (President Junichi Fukase).

2024 Hokuryu Land Improvement District Settai-betsu Dam water-entering ceremony

The Etai-betsu Dam stores snowmelt or rainwater and supplies agricultural water to approximately 2,300 ha of farmland in the town during the farming season (May to October). The dam was constructed over a 13-year period from 1953 to 1967 to provide the water necessary for rice cultivation and to prevent disasters to various facilities through flood control.

Etai Dam

Etai-betsu Dam, water discharge side
Passageway above the dam
The sparkling surface of a dam lake filled with clear water

Pray for a good harvest and safety

During the water-entering ceremony, the shrine, which had been closed by deep snow, is opened and offerings of rice, salt, sake, fish, vegetables, fruits, sweets, etc. are made to pray for a bountiful harvest and safety in the coming year.

The ceremony was conducted in a solemn manner by the MC, Mr. Shota Kagawa, Section Chief of the General Affairs Division, Hokuryu Land Improvement District.

A shrine that sits solemnly
an offering of food and drink

Dedication of the flute, performance of the prayer, and offering of the tamagushi (sacred branch of the Shinto altar)

Mr. Kota Onishi, the chief priest of Fukagawa Okuni Shrine (Ikkimachi, Fukagawa City), gave a dedication flute and a prayer, and Mr. Junichi Fukase, the chairman of Hokuryu Land Improvement District, Mr. Yasuhiro Sasaki, the mayor of the town, and other participants offered a Shinto offering of tamagushi.

Offering of the flute by the chief priest and performance of the congratulatory rites

reverentially offering a branch of the sacred tree

  • Mr. Junichi Fukase, President, Hokuryu Land Improvement District
  • Mr. Yasuhiro Sasaki, Mayor of Hokuryu Town
  • Mr. Minoru Nagai, Representative Director, Hokuryu-cho District, Kitasorachi Agricultural Cooperative Association
  • Mr. Naoki Shiraoka, Acting President, Hokuryu Land Improvement District
            Mr. Yoshitaka Iwakura, General Auditor
            Mr. Toru Tanimoto, Chairperson of the Management Committee
            Mr. Akinori Fujii, Director
            Kazumi Hirabayashi, Director
            Mr. Katsuji Saito, Director
  • Mr. Hidefumi Okabe, Chief Engineer, Etai-betsu Dam
玉串奉奠:北竜土地改良区 理事長 深瀬純一 様
Tamagushi Dedication: Mr. Junichi Fukase, President of Hokuryu Land Improvement District
玉串奉奠:北竜町長 佐々木康宏 様
Tamagushi Dedication: Mr. Yasuhiro Sasaki, Mayor of Hokuryu Town
Tama-kushi offering by land improvement districts and other attendees

Greeting from Chairman Junichi Fukase, Land Improvement District

土地改良区 深瀬純一理事長ご挨拶
Greeting from Chairman Junichi Fukase, Land Improvement District

Thank you very much for attending the 2024 Land Improvement District Etai-betsu Dam water-entering ceremony. Thank you very much for concluding the ceremony in an orderly manner.

We would also like to thank Mayor Sasaki, JA Regional Representative Nagai, and Mr. and Mrs. Terauchi from the town for taking time from their busy official duties to attend the ceremony.

Although there was a great deal of snow in the area this past year, it is believed that the snow has melted faster in recent years.

The early spring farming season is well underway, and we expect the water from the dam to fill the rice fields in the next few days. We pray that this water will bring a bountiful autumn.

The Land Improvement District went through a lot last year. We do not know what will happen again this year. I would like to conclude today's water passage ceremony by wishing everyone a happy, disaster-free, and injury-free year.

Thank you very much for your kind attention today," said President Fukase.

The "Dragon God", the god of water, descends and watches over the Etai-betsu Dam.

The year 2024, the year of the dragon, is a sacred year in which the dragon god, the god of water, will descend!

We sincerely pray to the great dragon god who watches over the clear water and fertile land for a safe and bountiful harvest this year.

With boundless love, gratitude, and prayers to the great Etai-betsu Dam, which is filled with pure water from the melting snow and pours into the fields of the entire town.

Great dam that supplies agricultural water for the town's fields.
Filled with clear, melted snow...
Mayor Sasaki overlooks the snow-covered lake of Etai-betsu Dam on April 1, 2024.

reference data

Monument "Toyoho" (Lake Toyoho)

❂ Cited in History of the Hokuryu Land Improvement District, November 3, 2001.

 Monument "Toyoho" (Lake Toyoho)
  • The inscription on the stone reads "Toyoho":Writing by Kosaku Shinoda, former Minister of Home Affairs and Chairman of the National Public Safety Commission, Member of the House of Representatives
  • Unit:White granite,Monument:black granite
  • Inscription:Sakuzo Matsubara, Chairman, Land Improvement District
  • Compliments:Hokuryu Town, Mayor Shoichi Mori

Inscription "Houko".

 Inscription "Houko".

The development of the Hokuryu area began in 1893, when Shoichiro Yoshiue and 20 others cleared the dense forests, which were still dark by day, to cultivate the fields.

In 1911, as a result of discussions, the Setaibetsu Water Supply Association was established, and water rights of 2,145 cubic meters per second were acquired with the goal of opening 1,000 ha of rice paddies, and rice cultivation was begun.

In 1917, the Soil Workers Association was approved, creating a rich granary in the watershed area. However, the development of rice paddies far exceeded initial expectations, and the development of the backcountry resulted in a decrease in the source flow rate, and the area has continued to suffer from extreme water shortages year after year.

The construction of this dam was the only way to break the deadlock and further open up the rice paddies. Construction of the dam began in 1953, and was completed after 13 years of work and huge national expenditures.

Of course, we must not forget that the completion of this major project was made possible by the enthusiasm of the local residents, the encouragement and guidance of the pioneers, and the understanding of the authorities.

We erect this monument to express our gratitude to those people and to the technical personnel who were directly responsible for this difficult work.

September 8, 1967
Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Land Improvement District, Sakuzo Matsubara"



The dam that I have longed for is here. The greatness that I see now. The infinite blessings that will soon be known. It is a symbol of eternal hope that will control floods, enrich beautiful rice paddies, and provide abundant rest and relaxation for the people of the town. We praise it as 'Toyoho Lake.

We would like to express our deepest gratitude to all those involved for their enthusiasm and efforts over the years, and pledge to do our utmost for the development of our town, in harmony, cooperation, and solidarity, in response to the completion of this great accomplishment.

September 8, 1967
Shoichi Mori, Mayor of Hokuryu Town"

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◇ Reporting and writing by Ikuko Terauchi (Photography and editorial assistance by Noboru Terauchi)