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The Japanese love celebrating and they love festivals. There are literally thousands of festivals in Japan from the tiny local community festivals just for the residents of one village or city ward, to the huge events such as the Takayama and Gion festivals, attended by hundreds of thousands of people every year.

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.

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Toyota Oiden Matsuri (Jul)


Located at the end of the Nagoya meitestu subway line, Toyota City enjoys a surprising degree of anonymity given that it is home to one of the World's largest manufacturers of automobiles and Japan's most successful company - the Toyota Motor Corporation. Toyota is an unremarkable city, not unlike many others in Japan with its sprawling suburban areas, glut of convenience stores, usual collection of izakaya and family restaurants. However, for one weekend in the middle of summer, the centre of Toyota is transformed for a weekend of festivities known as the Oiden Matsuri.

"Oiden" is a word from the old Mikawa dialect of the region meaning "Come on!" and the oiden cry of "Oiden mirin, odoro mai" means "Come on here, Let's dance together!" and this is what Oiden is all about. Hundreds of teams of dancers gathe rin the centre of the city and follow a course around the town, all dancing the oiden dance and singing the oiden song in a carnival of brightly coloured costumes. The official oiden styles are traditional and disco but to the untrained eye there seems to be a lot of cross over!

The festival concludes on Sunday evening with one of the world's largest regular firework displays. More than 10,000 fireworks are let off in a display lasting nearly two hours. A fabulous way to end a wonderful weekend of dance and fun.

You can attend the Oiden Matsuri on the last weekend of July. Sadly the event is no longer three days but has been limited to two - Saturday and Sunday.

Oiden Matsuri takes place in Toyota City which is located at the end of the Meitetsu Toyota Line, which connects Toyota City with Inuyama via the centre of Nagoya. Journey time from Nagoya Station is in the region of one hour.

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Inside Japan Tours - Independent British Travel Awards 2011 - Best Tour Operator To East and Central Asia
The Guardian, The Observer - Travel Awards 2010 Winner - Best tour operator (small)
Inside Japan Tours - Silver at the British Travel Awards 2009