Japanese Iris Festival
June 10, 2023
In less than 3 months the Barony Marche of the Debatable Lands will host its second Japanese Iris Festival. “What is that?” you may ask. In Japan it is also called Tango no Sekku or Ayame no hi and was one of the five festivals held at the Japanese imperial court. Originally it was on the fifth day of the fifth month or moon in the Chinese lunar calendar. When Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar the date was set to May 5th. Our festival is in early June due to the busy May calendar. Other countries in Asia have a similar festival on the same day. The festival marks the beginning of summer rainy season. Formerly the festival was known as Boys’ Day and the corresponding Girls’ Day was March 3th. After World War II, the two holidays were combined to be Children’s Day and was renamed to Kodomo no Hi. You will typically see carp-shaped banners displayed, one for each child. Treats that are traditional on this day are rice cakes called mochi wrapped in oak leaves called kashiwa. The kashiwa-mochi are filled with red bean paste. Another traditional treat is chimaki, which is a sweet rice paste wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf.

Our festival will include demonstrations and classes of various Japanese arts and skills. The demonstrations and classes include taiko drumming, shibori make-and-take gift cloths, kumihimo, and tea ceremony. All are welcome to come watch and learn. If you would like to teach a class, especially about Japanese things or run a demo, click here to sign-up and provide information about your class. If you have questions about teaching or running a demo, please contact the class coordinator Gwendolyn the Graceful, gwenlygrace@gmail.com. An event schedule and class schedule will be posted closer to the event.

The traditional festival name Tango no Sekku has meaning in Japanese. Tan means beginning and go is the simified character for horse. Horse is the Chinese zodiac sign for the fifth month. Sekku means festival. So the basic translation would be first day of horse month festival. But in Japanese go is the word for five so the double meaning of go means it’s the fifth day of the horse month. Well then, horses are the perfect addition to the Iris festival. We will be holding the Baronial Equestrian Champs for the riders and the horses. This will include the garb potion of the competition. Riders are encouraged to assemble an appropriate medieval Japanese equestrian outfit. In addition to the Baronial Equestrian Champs, there will be a number of games. Come watch the horsing around. There will also be a joust, weather permitting. Equestrians must contact THLady Gesa von Wellenstein at gwellenstein@yahoo.com or by phone at (724) 991-0917 to discuss equine logistics.

This year, we are also pleased and proud to host the vigil of our own Honorable Lady Muirgheal inghen Dubhghaill.

The event will be held on Saturday, June 10th, from 9 am to 7 pm at the Horse Arena at Bradys Run Park, 121 Bradys Run Road, Beaver Falls, PA, 15010. The autocrat for this event is Hara Kikumatsu, mka Sharon Booth, 1105 Shady Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. The email address is sbooth@sbooth.net, phone 412-441-1607. This is a land-line with answering machine. Please leave a message. No calls after 9pm.

Event Cost:
There are a limited number of prepared bento boxes. You can preorder by email to forveleth@gmail.com Make sure you specific you want regular, gluten free, or vegan box as well as your name both SCA and mundane. Note if you don't prepay for the bento box, you must troll in by noon and pay. Otherwise your unpaid box with be sold. If you have specific dietary needs, email the lunch box lady, THL Elss of Augsburg, elss.of.augsburg@gmail.com. To preregister for the event and to purchase a bento box lunch, send a check payable to SCA PA, Inc. – BMDL, to the head trollner, Lady Forveleth Dunde: Miranda Gavrin, 326 Lincoln Avenue, Carnegie, PA 15106.

Schedule (Class descriptions at the bottom of the page):
  • 9:00 AM - Site Opens
  • 10:30 AM - Morning Court
  • 11:00 AM - Pages' Tourney: an all-ages moutned game with hobby horses
  • 11:00 AM - Class: Minister of the List Training
  • 11:00 AM - Class: Beginning Taiko
  • 11:30 AM - Mounted Archery
  • 12:00 PM - Lunch Pickup (pre-orders required)
  • 12:30 PM - Class: Domestication of a Wild Horse
  • 12:30 PM - Class: Beginning Taiko
  • 1:00 PM - Baronial Equestrian Championships
  • 1:00 PM - Class: Mukashi Mukashi
  • 1:00 PM - Class: Kumihimo
  • 1:30 PM - Class: Furoshiki Make-and Take
  • 2:00 PM - Field open for Kite Flying
  • 2:30 PM - Class: Beginning Taiko
  • 2:30 PM - Class: Developing a Japanese Persona
  • 3:00 PM - Daiku: Japanese Equestrian Games
  • 3:30 PM - Class: Kute-Uchi
  • 3:30 PM - Class: Tea and Tanka
  • 4:00 PM - Jousting
  • 5:00 PM - Evening Court
  • 7:00 PM - Site Closes

  • Directions:

    From Pittsburgh: Take 376 west. Take Chippawa exit 31, route 51. Go south on 51 to the and turn right into the park entrance. First you pass a large building, Bradys Run Recreation Facility. Just past the Recreation Facility, turn left at the road with the signs for Bradys Run Recycling Center and Horse Arena Shelters 1, 2 & 3. Then, immediately turn right.

    From points further south of Pittsburgh: Take 79 north, then 376 west and follow directions from Chippawa exit 31.

    From north of Cranberry, PA: Take 79 south to Cranberry and follow signs for PA turnpike and go west on turnpike, I76.

    From the turnpike: exit at Beaver Falls route 18. Take route 18 south. Just after the YMCA on the left, turn right on Veteran's bridge. Turn right after you cross the river on to 51 north. Take 51 north to the park entrance. Turn left into the park. First you pass a large building, Bradys Run Recreation Facility. Just past the Recreation Facility, turn left at the road with the signs for Bradys Run Recycling Center and Horse Arena Shelters 1, 2 & 3. Then, immediately turn right.

    From further further east: Take the PA turnpike west and follow the directions from exit at Beaver Falls route 18. When searching on maps online you can use the Bradys Run Ice Arena also known as the Bradys Run Recreation Facility.

    Class Descriptions:

  • Minister of the Lists Training (Baroness Vika Viborgskaya) - We need you! Fighting can not happen without an MOL at an event. Join Her Excellency to learn how you can help grow our numbers, learn how to check fighters in and learn tournament formats. She will also be reviewing the running of tournaments so if you feel a bit rusty come get a polishing. 1hr

  • Introduction to Taiko (Mistress Stuirrim and The Honorable Lady Elaine Fairchilde) - Beginning Japanese drum technique. Limit: 10 students per session. 30min, 3 sessions

  • Domestication of a Wild Horse (The Honorable Lady Gesa von Wellenstein) - Her Ladyship Gesa talks through the process of turning a wild horse into a faithful riding companion. 30 min

  • Mukashi Mukashi (Lord Turlough Feolain) - A small collection of tales from folk traditions of Japan. These are traditional tales, some involving minor gory details and themes of suspense that may not be suitable for more sensitive audidences. 1 hr

  • Kumihimo on the Marudai (Ishiyama Shonagon) - Learn the basics of Japanese "kumihimo" braiding on the "marudai" round stand. We will go over basics of setup, and several different 8 and 16 strand braids. Younger attendees may need extra assistance. 90 min

  • Resist-Dyed Furoshiki Make and Take (The Honorable Lady Oribe Tsukime) - Learn how to do the type of stitched resist dyeing called bōshi shibori, and put your new skill to use dyeing a Japanese carrying cloth. If you're wearing clothes you're not willing to risk, Her Ladyship will put it in the dye for you. Limit: 15. Materials Cost: $5. 2 hrs

  • Developing a Japanese Persona (Tatsukawa Gentarou Chisato) - A discussion and aid course on the multitude of persona ideas, available in medieval Japan, for both men and women. 1 hr

  • Kute-uchi hand-loop braiding basics (Ishiyama Shonagon) - Learn the basics of Japanese hand-help loop-manipulation "kute-uchi" braiding. This period braiding technique uses no equipment. Loops of cord are passed from hand to hand, forming braids. Three basic five-loop braids will be covered. Younger attendees may need extra assistance. 1 hr

  • Tea and Tanka (The Honorable Lady Oribe Tsukime and Tatsukawa Gentarou Chisato) - An informal hangout: enjoy matcha as we read and write poetry. Materials Cost: $1 for tea (no cost for tanka!). 1 hr