47 Must-See Festivals in Each Japanese Prefecture

A festival is a good opportunity to experience the lively local culture including music son special occasions. Here is a list of unique festivals from 47 prefectures from traditional events to modern events. You'll be able to see and enjoy another side of Japanese culture.

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41. Karatsu Kunchi [Saga]

MC MasterChef/Wikimedia Commons

This autumn festival held from November 2nd to 4th features 14 lacquer-coated floats. The lacquer coating is said to have cost the equivalent of over one hundred million yen in today's economy. They parade daily to the traditional music of flutes, drums, and other percussion instruments. The highlight is the procession in the beach on day 2. 2-5 ton floats moving to their appointed place on the sandy beach is a must-see spectacle.

HP: www.karatsu-kankou.jp/english.html

HP: www.karatsu-kankou.jp/hantai_top.html (中文)

Address: Karatsu-shi, Saga (Google Map)

42. Nagasaki Kunchi [Nagasaki]

This festival is held from October 7th to 9th. The main attraction is the dance and float performance presented in four sites including Suwa Shrine where the dedicated deity sits. Some performances called a garden showing can be seen in the neighborhood of the participants. The exotic atmosphere tells us about the towns’ history, the only international trade port for some countries in the Edo period when Japan was otherwise closed to foreigners.

HP: travel.at-nagasaki.jp/en/

Address: Nagasaki-shi, Nagasaki (Google Map)

43. Yamaga Tourou [Kumamoto]

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www.y-kankoukyoukai.com

This festival held on August 15th and 16th has several events including folk dance by women carrying lanterns on their heads. The centerpiece is the ‘sennin toro odori’ performed on the 16th. Literally, it's a folk dance performed by a thousand women. It’s fabulous to see their lanterns lit up in the darkness.

HP: www.yamaga-kankoh.hinokuni-net.jp/en/specials/summer/

Address: Yamaga, Yamaga-shi, Kumamoto (Google Map)

44. Oita Tanabata Matsuri [Oita]

This festival held from August 8th to 9th in the evening consists of three parts: the procession of 20 floats called the Funai Pacchin as well as a group of dancers on day 1, a traditional dance to percussion music on day 2, and fireworks on day 3. The shopping street in the town is decorated with Tanabata ornaments.

HP: www.city.oita.oita.jp/www/contents/1047450200439/ (Japanese Only)

Address: Funai-machi, Oita-shi, Oita (Google Map)

45. Takachiho Yokagura [Miyazaki]

These performances are held from November to February every year. 33 mythologically-themed Kagura programs are performed all through the night in 20 stages throughout the town in dedication to the deities. The mysterious atmosphere is worth visiting, though Takachiho Kagura, the 1 hour version, is performed daily at Takachiho Shrine for tourists.

HP: takachiho-kanko.info/en/

HP: takachiho-kanko.info/tw/ (中文)

Address: Takachiho-shi, Miyazaki (Google Map)

46. Ohara Matsuri [Kagoshima]

aiminamie

Ohara Matsuri, held on the 2nd and 3rd of November, is the biggest festival in the southern Kyushu area. More than 20,000 dancers in over  200 teams dance to folk music through the main street in the city of Kagoshima. It is fun to see each team dance in unique costumes from traditional kimono to contemporary dress.

HP: www.kagoshima-yokanavi.jp/english/index.html

Address: Kagoshima-shi, Kagoshima (Google Map)

47. Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri [Okinawa]

This is an Eisa dance competition in Okinawa. Eisa is a traditional dance in the region performed to honor the spirits of their ancestors. The date changes each year: held for three days on a weekend between the end of August and the beginning of September. The energetic dance performance often played with drums can be seen on the street and at Koza Sports Park.

HP: zentoeisa.com/fb6/

Address: Okinawa-shi, Okinawa (Google Map)

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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.

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