The Nagasaki Kunchi has been celebrated for more than 370 years and incorporates different aspects of Chinese and Dutch cultures, which have played a role in the city's history. The festival's name is believed to come from ku-nichi ("9th day"), the ninth day of the ninth month of the lunar calendar.
The festival highlight are dance and show performances by groups representing Nagasaki's various city districts. Each district (odori-cho), participates only once every seven years, so this festival remains fresh to even the regular viewer.
About five to seven groups perform each year, presenting traditional Japanese dances, Chinese influenced dragon dances or performances involving large floats, many of which are shaped like ships. While some performances are calm and peaceful, others get wild and hectic.
Performances are held at four main venues with paid seating and/or standing areas in the morning and evening of October 7th and in the mornings of October 8th and 9th. The four main stages are Suwa Shrine, Otabisho, Yasaka Shrine, and Kokaido. See the link section below for more ticket information in Japanese.
At some of the main venues, it is possible to take a glimpse at the performances without a ticket, but it gets crowded and people arrive early to reserve the best spots.
Performances are also staged at a few other locations across the city, for which no tickets are available. Among them is the plaza of Nagasaki Station, where most groups have scheduled appearances on October 7th. Get there in advance to reserve a good spot either on the ground level or from the elevated walkway.
It is also possible to follow the floats and dancers as they walk through the city's districts and pay visits to supporting shops and households during the rest of the day. Festival schedules in Japanese and English are available at tourist information desks and hotels.