Yearly Archives: 2011

Paul Rusch Festival Yatsugatake County Fair

This American-style Thanksgiving Festival is a rarity in Japan. Named after Dr. Paul Rusch, a Kentucky native who, focusing on the area around Yatsugatake Nanroku, devoted his life to helping rebuild Japan and introduce democracy after the war, this festival

Aoi Festival

The origins of Aoi Matsuri (葵祭) can be traced back to the noble circles of the Imperial court. Among the many Japanese festivals it is known as one of the finest and rarest of its kind. Especially impressive is the

Kyoto Gion Festival

The Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) is one of Japan’s three major festivals. It was first established in the year 869 in Kyoto and then became increasingly popular throughout Japan. Its primary objective has been to worship the Gion god and by

Otsu Festival

Originating in the early part of the Edo Period, this religious festival includes a parade of magnificent, 13 story tall lantern floats. This festival is rare for its mechanical dolls (Karakuri Ningyo) which operate on special mechanisms such as “Koi

Kyoto Jidai Festival

Established in 1895 to commemorate the 1,100th anniversary of the Heian Period move of the capital, this festival takes place at Heian Shrine. What is special about this festival, is that it offers you the chance to view a large

Kurama Fire Festival

The Kurama Fire Festival (鞍馬の火祭) takes place every year on the 22nd of October at Yuki Shrine, in Kyoto. Starting at 6pm, watch fires called Kagaribi (篝火) are ignited in front of each household in the village and, while the

Kōchi Yosakoi Festival

At this festival the unique “Yosakoi Naruko” dance is performed to the clapping rhythm of the Naruko (a wooden percussion instrument). On the evening of the 9th, there is a big fireworks competition at the Kagamigawa riverside and the main

Awa Odori

The Awa Odori (阿波踊り) dance is one of the three Obon dances, and is performed to accompanying shamisen, taiko and flute music. During the festival period, a wide area of the town turns into a pedestrian paradise with dance stages

Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival

This festival which takes place at Kushida Shrine (櫛田神社), home to the patron deity of Hakata, looks back onto a history of more than 760 years. The Yamakasa here are large floats decorated with banners and puppets, which are presented

Hakata Dontaku

Between 10:00am and 8:00pm, at 30 different locations in the Tenjin and Hakata districts, the so-called “Dontaku-tai” dance groups will perform displays of their skills. In the afternoon, there is also a parade at the Dontaku Plaza on Meiji Dori.

Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival

Eisa (エイサー) is a traditional Okinawan dance festival, which takes place around the Obon holidays. In 1956, when Koza City (present-day Okinawa City) was established, this event began as an Eisa dance competition. Since then it has evolved into a

Nagasaki Kunchi

This event consists of musical performances in honor of the patron deities of the surrounding villages which are kept at Suwa Shrine. One of the main features of this festival is its international flair, including cultural imports from Holland, Portugal

Sanja Festival

Sanja Festival (三社祭) is one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals. The parade centers around three portable shrines (mikoshi) which are carried towards Asakusa Shrine. The festival attracts up to 2 million visitors every year, and is a truly quintessential Japanese experience,

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