10 Fall Festivals and Events to Go to in the Tohoku Region
The Tohoku region consists of the following prefectures: Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Yamagata, Miyagi, and Fukushima. A wide variety of fall festivals and events take place in this region, but this article will introduce 10 particularly amazing ones that you should check out.
- 1. Sukagawa City Taimatsu Akashi (Fukushima)
- 2. Aizu Matsuri (Fukushima)
- 3. Motomiya Fall Festival (Fukushima)
- 4. Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival (Fukushima)
- 5. Jozenji Street Jazz Festival in Sendai (Miyagi)
- 6. Nihon-ichi no Imoni-kai Festival (Yamagata)
- 7. Omagari Fireworks Fall Version: Hanabi Theater - Evergreen (Akita)
- 8. Yamada Matsuri (Iwate)
- 9. Kamaishi Matsuri (Iwate)
- 10. Hirosaki Castle Chrysanthemum and Autumn Foliage Festival (Aomori)
1. Sukagawa City Taimatsu Akashi (Fukushima)
Taimatsu Akashi is one of Japan's three major fire festivals and has over 400 years of history. During the festival, you will see around 30 pillars of fire burn in the night with the dramatic sound of taiko (Japanese drums) in the background. These pillars can be as long as 10m and as heavy as 3 tons! The festival reaches its climax when the men responsible for lighting the pillars manage to light them all the way to the top. The sight of the fires burning together as if to burn the night skies is stunning.
Schedule: November 10, 2018 (Saturday)
2. Aizu Matsuri (Fukushima)
The highlight of Aizu Festival is the grand parade, which consists of approximately 500 people walking through the streets. The parade is sent off with a ceremony at Tsuruga-jo Castle, where several events like rifle squads firing off shots and sword battle demonstrations are held. You will see people dressed in a variety of historic costumes, such as of valiant warriors and beautiful princesses.
Schedule: Usually late September
3. Motomiya Fall Festival (Fukushima)
This is a dynamic festival with highlights such as the Hadaka Mikoshi, where men wearing loincloths dash up the 182 steps of Adatara Shrine carrying a mikoshi (portable shrine), and the Takabari Chochin, which involves lanterns raised high on long poles. There is also the Mayumi Mikoshi, in which mikoshi are carried by women who start off by energetically shouting, "Seiya, saa". Another attraction is the food stalls, which number over 150, that set up shop on the main street. Pick up some food to nibble on while watching the festival!
Schedule: October 26, 2018 (Friday) - October 28, 2018 (Sunday)
4. Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival (Fukushima)
During this festival, 3,000 lanterns light up the night skies. The festival kicks off with the lighting of the lanterns on the taiko stage using the sacred light of Nihonmatsu Shrine. The "Horadokkoi" calls of the people pulling the stage, along with the sound of festival music played by drums and flutes in the background, liven up the atmosphere. Watch the lanterns sway on top of the stage that is carried valiantly through the town.
Schedule: October 4, 2018 (Thursday) - October 6, 2018 (Saturday)
5. Jozenji Street Jazz Festival in Sendai (Miyagi)
Expect to hear two days of music - ranging from jazz, rock, and world music to gospel - filling the streets during this festival! You’ll see several places throughout the city, such as building entrances, parks and squares, turn into open-air stages. You will also be able to feel the strength of the people of Sendai who have continued to support this festival, undeterred by the Great East Japan Earthquake. Why not pick up some specialty foods from Sendai and local sake while enjoying the music?
Schedule: Usually early September
6. Nihon-ichi no Imoni-kai Festival (Yamagata)
A staggeringly large pot with a 6m diameter is the center of this festival. The amount of ingredients that go into the pot is also astonishing: 3 tons of taro, 1.2 tons of beef, and 3,500 sticks of Welsh onion! Imoni is a hot pot dish consisting of ingredients like yams, Welsh onions, and meat. In the Tohoku area, friends and families get together to savor this dish by river banks. This is a great opportunity to try it!
Schedule: Usually mid-September
7. Omagari Fireworks Fall Version: Hanabi Theater - Evergreen (Akita)
This annual fireworks festival is described as a "theatrical fireworks show" where 8,000 fireworks are shot up in wonderful harmony with the music that matches the year's theme. The 2018 theme is Fireworks Theater - Evergreen (the color of youth that never fades). Enjoy the beautiful fireworks together with disco music and movie tunes!
Schedule: October 13, 2018 (Saturday)
8. Yamada Matsuri (Iwate)
Yamada Matsuri is the general term for the annual festivals of Yamada Hachimangu and Osugi Jinja Shrine. Its highlight is the Kaijo Togyo, which features the mikoshi from each shrine. The sight of men carrying the massive mikoshi into the ocean is impressive. Once they get deep enough that they can no longer keep their feet on the ground, the mikoshi are handed over to boats. Yamada Town, where the festival is held, is a major source of oysters and scallops in Japan. The festival represents the local people's dedication to the ocean.
Schedule: Usually mid-September
9. Kamaishi Matsuri (Iwate)
At this festival, you can feast your eyes on a magnificent and unique sight of mikoshi being carried around by hikifune (festival floats), which are actually fishing boats with colorful fishermen's banners. On the bow of these boats, dancers energetically perform toramai (traditional performing art from Kamaishi) while wearing tiger costumes. There’s lots of other things to marvel at this festival, such as kagura (ancient Shinto music and dance) and dashi (parade floats).
Schedule: October 19, 2018 (Friday) - October 21, 2018 (Sunday)
10. Hirosaki Castle Chrysanthemum and Autumn Foliage Festival (Aomori)
This festival is held when the leaves on the 1,000 maple and 2,600 cherry trees turn color in the fall. There are displays of dolls adorned with chrysanthemum, including ones representing valiant warriors wearing armor and carrying weapons, as well as others representing beautiful princesses. The highlight of the event is seeing how beautifully the chrysanthemum dolls and colorful artworks of Nebuta (a traditional summer festival in Hirosaki) go together. Having these gallant artworks in the background makes the chrysanthemum dolls seem even more impressive! Visit to enjoy the aromatic chrysanthemum dolls and fall foliage all at once!
Schedule: October 19, 2018 (Friday) - November 11, 2018 (Sunday)
Use this article as a guide to help plan your travel itinerary and go visit a couple of the unique fall festivals and events in the Tohoku region!
*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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