One of the best things about Japanese autumn is the festivals. Here are 7 festivals that you should experience.
1. Nagasaki Kunchi (Nagasaki)
Nagasaki Kunchi is a fall festival held in Nagasaki's Suwa Shrine. The area of Nagasaki historically was a window to the world, so there's plenty of foreign influence in the local culture. The 59 neighborhoods of Nagasaki are split up into groups of 5-7, and the groups chosen that year dance as religious offerings. Please enjoy the different, energetic dances like the Ja-odori dragon dance, the Kokodesho parade of a mikoshi shrine, and the Kujira no Shiofuki where they push a whale float through the streets.
Will be held from October 7th (Friday) to October 9th (Sunday) in 2016
2. Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (Osaka)
Osaka's most famous fall festival is the Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri. The word "danjiri" refers to the floats that are decorated, carrying big taiko drums, and pulled through the streets during religious festivals. The floats are pulled by a great number of people, and tens of them run through the city on the day of the festival. The sight of them speeding around corners using a technique called "yarimawashi" is exceptionally impressive! Sometimes there are accidents like the danjiri tipping over, so please make sure to watch from a spot slightly away from the road.
Will be held on September 17th (Saturday) and 18th (Sunday) in 2016
3. Jidai Matsuri (Kyoto)
Jidai Matsuri is Kyoto's Heian Shrine's autumn festival. There is a procession of eras from the Meiji period (1868 - 1912) backwards to the Nara era (710 - 794) matching with the music from Japanese flutes and drums. It's a festival that parades about 2,000 living creatures (people, cows, and horses) in a line about 2km long. All of the outfits, props, and shoes are restored faithfully to how they were in the proper era. This is definitely a festival that teaches you about history and the gorgeousness of past eras.
Will be held on Saturday, October 22nd (may be postponed due to weather) in 2016
4. Shuki Taisai Grand Autumn Festival (Tochigi)
Nikko Toshogu is a famous tourism spot in Nikko, and this is a grand festival they hold in the fall. They recreate the Parade of 1,000 Samurai, an Edo period samurai procession, and many spectators fill the grounds for that. They also perform the shinji-yabusame the day before. This is a traditional horseback archery event in which they shoot whistling arrows while sitting on a running horse, and it's another wonderful sight.
Will be held on October 16th (Sunday) and 17th (Monday) in 2016
5. Kawagoe Festival (Saitama)
Kawagoe Festival is held in Kawagoe, a town that still has the Edo period atmosphere. It's known for having elaborate dolls riding on top of gorgeous floats. Depending on the time, the place to see the best sights changes, but all the floats gather around 2:00 pm in front of the Kawagoe city hall. At night they hold the Hikkawase, in which a number of floats battle along to music played by Japanese flutes, drums, and gongs accompanied by a dance. It's the biggest sight of the festival.
Will be held on October 15th (Saturday) and 16th (Sunday) in 2016
6. Niihama Taiko Matsuri (Ehime)
This autumn festival held in Niihama started around the Kamakura period (1185 - 1333). Over 50 gorgeous floats called "taikodai" parade through the streets. It's said they weigh 3 tons, and each one requires about 150 people to raise it high, so this is a festival that's definitely impressive! It's one of the representative festivals of the Shikoku area along with the Awa-Odori and Yosakoi Matsuri.
Will be held from October 16th (Sunday) to October 18th (Tuesday) in 2016
*The area of Ojoin will hold it from October 15th (Saturday) to October 17th (Monday)
7. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Reitaisai (Kanagawa)
This festival held at the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura fills with many people. The festival is an offering of horseback archery called yabusame in which people dress as samurai from the Kamakura period and shoot arrows while on horseback at fleeing enemies. A must-see!
Will be held from September 14th (Wednesday) to 16th (Friday) in 2016
Please find an autumnal festival you'd like to see and add it to your itinerary!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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