The Remains of Ushi Ichi (cattle fair) in Kui
Cattle and horses are raised for exchange, sale and servitude. Hence, as
merchandise, their trade was carried out through a mechanism called "ichi"
(fair). The fair was controlled by each current administration, who restricted
its time and place.
The origin of Kui-ichi is said to date back to 963 or 951, when two cattle
merchants chose Kui for the site to trade a bull. They finished the trade after
both of them went to pray at the local Inari shrine. The ox showed remarkable
growth after that. The merchants were quite delighted and publicized the
divine grace that they believed to have blessed them with this wonder.
Each ichi, held once a year, lasted for about two weeks, with the Inari Shrine
Festival as its main event. Starting in the middle of the Meiji era, ichi were
held three times a year. In 1868, 30,000 cattle were said to be at the ichi to be
traded, and merchants came not only from the Chugoku district but also from
the Kinki and Shikoku areas. The town of Kui was said to be swamped with
cattle and people.
From the Taisho to Showa eras, the trading center gradually shifted with the
development of roads and transportation to Miyoshi City and Onomichi City.
Thus, this major cattle fair, with a history of some 1000 years, was finally
brought to a close after World War II.
This place used to flourish with one of the three major cattle fairs in the Chugokn district (Photograph taken circa 1994)
The Kui Cattle Fair Memorial Monument was erected on Muroyama Hill in 1924. The inscription reads, "Because of this grand fair here, traveling merchants thronged, cattle and various merchandise congested the area, crowds surged, and traffic was very heavy."
According to a legend inscribed on two stones, a bull from Aki and a bull from Bingo fought against each other, exhausted all their strength and became stones.
Materials on cattle fairs are kept and exhibited in the folklore museum of the town.