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Top 10 of the Best Matsuri in Japan

Fireworks, food, dancing, music and the quirky attraction here and there, there’s nothing quite like Japan’s matsuri festivals. Throughout the year different cities across the nation hold their own unique celebrations of good luck, gratitude, traditional culture and community. If you’re just visiting Japan for a short time, heading along to a matsuri is one of the best ways to experience authentic Japanese culture, here are some suggestions.

Top 10 of the Best Matsuri in Japan

Index

  • Chichibu Yomatsuri

  • Shujo Onie

  • Kawagoe Matsuri

  • Narita Gionsai

  • Fukushima Waraji Matsuri

  • Aomori Nebuta Festival

  • Gujo Odori

  • Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

  • Akita Kanto Matsuri

  • Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

  • Chichibu Yomatsuri

    Chichibu Yomatsuri

    Chichibu Yomatsuri

    Chichibu in western Saitama Prefecture, roughly two hours from central Tokyo is a town that’s humble in size but really loves to party. Many festivals take place here throughout the year, but the most famous is the Chichibu Yomatsuri (night festival). Held on annually between December 2nd and 3rd, celebrations, see massive illuminated floats make their way down the main street, and up an elevated slope overlooking the city hall. The event finishes with huge fireworks for more than two hours display on the last night.

    Chichibu-jinja Shrine
    rating 218 Reviews
    Address
    Saitama Pref. Chichibushi Bambamachi 1-3
    Phone
    0494220262
    Remarks
    【URL】https://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp/p_festival/1030/
  • Shujo Onie

    Shujo Onie

    Shujo Onie

    For those not afraid to detour off the well-trodden path, the unique Shujo Onie in Kunisaki Peninsula in Oita is well worth the effort. Held every February at Tennen-ji Shrine, it’s said this celebration has a history that goes back over 1,000 years. A way to pray for a good harvest in the new year, the event’s rituals feature freezing river swimming and a giant bonfire. The final part of the celebration is the most thrilling; two demons make their way around the city's main shrine, banging fire and spreading the burning ashes. A little more dangerous than most other festivals, if you survive, you’re bound to have a good year.

    天念寺修正鬼会
    Address
    大分県豊後高田市長岩屋下長岩屋
    Phone
    0978223100
    Remarks
    【URL】https://www.showanomachi.com/events/detail/195
  • Kawagoe Matsuri

    Kawagoe Matsuri

    Kawagoe Matsuri

    Kawagoe, also known as 'Koedo' (little Edo, Tokyo’s former name), is only a 30-minute train ride from Ikebukuro in Tokyo, but it feels centuries away from the neon lights and towering skyscrapers of the city. It’s known for being the home of many traditional Japanese sweets and historical warehouses, but it’s also home to one of the country’s best autumn celebrations. Held every year on the third Saturday and Sunday of October, the Kawagoe Matsuri dates back to the mid-1600s. Today, it’s an extravagant affair with traffic-stopping floats, live drumming shows and endless rows of food stalls.

    川越まつり
    Address
    埼玉県川越市新富町1丁目
    Phone
    0492248811
    Remarks
    【URL】https://kawagoematsuri.jp/index.html
  • Narita Gionsai

    Narita Gionsai

    Narita Gionsai

    An area known mainly just for its airport, Narita City also hosts one of the nation’s most impressive celebrations, the Narita-san Gion Matsuri. Held in annually on the three days nearest to the 7th, 8th, and the 9th of July, heading into the weekend, the event signals the beginning of summer and features endless dancing, mikoshi floats and plenty of incredible street food. The 300-year old event draws an estimated 450,000 visitors and is an excellent way to really appreciate another side of the often overlooked Narita City.

    成田山祇園会
    Address
    千葉県成田市成田1
    Phone
    0476222111
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.nrtk.jp/enjoy/shikisaisai/gion-festival.html
  • Fukushima Waraji Matsuri

    Fukushima Waraji Matsuri

    Fukushima Waraji Matsuri

    One of the more interesting celebrations held in Japan is the Fukushima Waraji Matsuri also known as Straw Sandal Festival. Waraji is the Japanese name for the traditional straw sandals that were once an everyday outfit staple. Held over the first Friday and Saturday of every August in Fukushima City, since 1970, the celebration is split in two. The first half is a traditional style festival where a giant sandal is carried through the main street. While, the second half of the night is dedicated to the Dancing Soda Night show, where dozens of dressed up teams perform different modern style dances to the same song, think hip-hop, belly dancing, breakdancing and everything in between.

    福島わらじまつり
    Address
    福島県福島市栄町
    Phone
    0245365511
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.fmcnet.co.jp/waraji/
  • Aomori Nebuta Festival

    Aomori Nebuta Festival

    Aomori Nebuta Festival

    Taking over the Aomori city from August 2nd to 7th is the most colorful of all festivals, the Aomori Nebuta Festival a massive parade that attracts roughly   three million visitors every year. The centerpieces of this 300-year old summer celebration are the towering paper floats that make their way through the town. Looking like gigantic paintings come to life the floats are handmade by local artisans and volunteers, some of whom dedicate months to creating these behemoth paper sculptures known as Nebuta. It looks incredible in photos, but seeing these pieces in the flesh is an entirely different experience altogether.

    Aomori Nebutasai
    Address
    Aomori Pref. Aomorishi Hashimoto 2-chome
    Phone
    0177237211
    Remarks
    【URL】https://www.nebuta.or.jp/
  • Gujo Odori

    Gujo Odori

    Gujo Odori

    An odori matsuri is a common traditional bon dance festival held throughout the country, but one of the best is the Gujo Odori held in Gujo, Gifu. During the rest of the year Gujo is a sleepy town, but between August 13th to 16th it transforms into a dance extravaganza, featuring teams in colorful costumes who dance throughout the day and night in celebration of summer, social cohesion, and to pay respect to those who have passed. Mid-August is the main event, but technically the party lasts thirty-three nights, running from the middle of July to early September, so there’s no excuse not to go and see it.

    郡上おどり
    Address
    岐阜県郡上市八幡町新町
    Phone
    0575670002
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.gujohachiman.com/kanko/odori.html
  • Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

    Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

    Asakusa Sanja Matsuri

    Sensoji, Tokyo’s most famous temple is home to an inner-city festival quite unlike any other. Known as one of the ‘3 great Shinto festivals in Tokyo’ alongside the Kanda and Sanno festivals, it takes place during the third weekend of May. The celebrations feature around one hundred mikoshi (portable shrines) and attract roughly one and a half million visitors between Friday to Sunday. The festival climax is on the last night when the temple’s own mikoshi is taken around the neighborhood before being welcomed back home, guided by a wave of glowing orange lanterns and live dancing, music, and singing.

    Asakusa Shrine
    rating 1186 Reviews
    Address
    Tokyo Taitou-ku Asakusa 2-3-1
    Phone
    0338441575
    Remarks
    【URL】https://www.asakusajinja.jp/sanjamatsuri/
  • Akita Kanto Matsuri

    Akita Kanto Matsuri

    Akita Kanto Matsuri

    Held over four days in early August every year, the Akita Kanto Matsuri is without a doubt one of the most spectacular summer events in northern Japan. Part of the nation's Tanabata celebrations, the festival’s main drawcards are the giant bamboo poles that are decorated with dozens of candle-lit paper lanterns and balanced precariously on the bodies of masterful local performers. While the gravity-defying acts of the performers are the main show, there’s plenty to be seen around the festival grounds too, with countless food stalls selling delicious local festival snacks.

    Akitakantoumaturi
    Address
    Akita Pref. Akitashi Omachi 3-chome
    Phone
    0188632222
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.kantou.gr.jp/index.htm
  • Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

    Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

    Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

    Known as the crown jewel of Nagahama City, the Hikiyama Matsuri is an annual mid-April celebration of spring, theatre, and traditional Japanese culture. During the festival, meticulously decorated floats known as hikiyama, become portable moving theaters, adorned with lanterns, animal sculptures, and tapestries unique to each group performing on the stage. The feature of the celebration is the child-actors who take part kabuki plays traditionally reserved for adults. These prodigies dedicate months of their young lives to practicing and perfecting their shows before performing to the adoring crowds.

    Hikiyama Museum
    rating 39 Reviews
    Address
    Shiga Pref. Nagahamashi Motohamachou 14-8
    Phone
    0749653300
    Remarks
    【URL】http://www.nagahama-hikiyama.or.jp/
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