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)
- Kyoto Hanatoro (Dec & March)
- Okayama Naked Festival (Feb)
Okayama Naked Festival (Feb)
Winter sees some of Japan's most eccentric festivals, and Okayama?s Naked Festival is probably the most famous. One night in mid winter, hundreds of men dressed only in a loincloth gather at the local temple and fight to catch one of several lucky sticks thrown by the temple priests. This amazing spectacle of course has historical roots, and is thought to have started when those who had collected charms from the temple had a run of good luck, and word quickly spread, hugely increasing the number of visitors keen for some of the good fortune to rub off on them.
This festival is a unique chance to see the Japanese at their least inhibited, and as well as the main event there are plenty of other festivities and sideshows to enjoy.
The festival takes place on the third Saturday in February at Sadai-ji Temple.
Okayama is a large city halfway between Kyoto and Hiroshima. The city also boasts one of Japan's most famous landscape gardens. A visit here can be combined with a visit to neighbouring Kurashiki, home to a beautiful historic canal district.
Our Gardens of Japan Self-Guided trip includes a stay in Okayama. You can also visit by ship on our Inland Sea Highlights Cruise. Our Japan Unmasked group tour includes a stay in Kurashiki, from where you could visit Okayama.
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