Festivals in Japan are rich and vibrant occasions. Girls put on their best 'yukatta' (a light kimono) and often the men wear traditional dress as well. The streets are lined with food and drink stands selling grilled meat on sticks, 'yakisoba' fried noodles and all manner of food delights. And of course, the Japanese love a drink at these occasions so beer and sake are never in short supply.
In this section we will be collecting together some of our favourite festivals that we think you may like to consider attending whilst in Japan. Some are really famous, other less so, but what we can guarantee is that you will have a lot of fun. Accommodation for major festivals can get booked up as far as a year in advance so if you are looking to attend a big event then let is know as soon as possible so we can get planning. Often though, it is just a matter of seeing what coincides with your visit and heading along for some festival fun and a chance to meet the Japanese at their most laid back.
- Nebuta Matsuri (Aug)
- Yabusame Horseback Archery (Sep)
- Saijo Sake Festival (Oct)
- Shirakawago Doburoku Matsuri (Oct)
- Toyota Oiden Matsuri (Jul)
- Sapporo Beer Festival (Jul & Aug)
- Sapporo Snow Festival (Feb)
- Sumida River Fireworks Festival (Jul)
- Daimonji Bonfire Festival (Aug)
- Tokyo Anime Fairs (Mar & Apr)
- Kyoto Hanatoro (Dec & March)
- Okayama Naked Festival (Feb)
Nebuta Matsuri (Aug)
The sleepy northern town of Aomori comes alive for the Nebuta Matsuri (festival), a week-long celebration in early August, one of Japan's most famous festivals. As darkness falls, huge illuminated floats are pulled through the streets by armies of local people. Crafted from coloured rice-paper, huge images of demons, warriors and horses bear down on the crowds below as the floats are rocked, spun and raced through the town. Hundreds of dancers follow the floats, to a cacophony of bells, flutes and drums. On the last night of the festival the floats are loaded onto boats and floated out to sea against the backdrop of a spectacular firework finale!
The festival takes place annually from 2nd to 7th August. The main days are 2nd to the 6th when the night time illuminations provide the spectacular backdrop to the festivities. On the 7th there are day time celebrations all finished off with an incredible firework display over the harbour after dark.
Be sure to book early if you wish to attend this incredible event. Accommodation is at a premium and close to the time is impossible to come by.
Aomori is located on the far northern tip of the Tohoku region which stretches out to the north of Tokyo. The city can be accessed from Tokyo via Shinkansen to Hachinhe and then a short hop on a Ltd Express. Journey time is just over 4 hours. Alternatively, you can travel from the other side of Japan travelling up the Japan Sea Coast from Niigata.
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