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The Nagasaki Kunchi (長崎くんち) is the festival of Suwa Shrine, held annually in Nagasaki on October 7-9. The festival has been celebrated for about 400 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's highlights are the 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 7 and in the mornings of October 8 and 9. The four main stages are Suwa Shrine, Otabisho, Yasaka Shrine and Chuo Koen.

Unfortunately, it is virtually impossible for the average foreign tourist to purchase tickets for paid seating because they sell out quickly several weeks before the event through sales channels that require Japanese language skills. However, at some of the main venues, it is possible to take a glimpse at the performances without a ticket, but these areas tend to get very crowded, and people arrive early to capture the best spots.

Performances are also staged at a few other locations across the city, for which no tickets are available and people can watch freely. Among them is the plaza of Nagasaki Station, where most groups have scheduled appearances on some of the festival days (in 2019, several groups are scheduled to visit Nagasaki Station on October 7 and one group on October 9). Get there in advance to reserve a good spot. At the station plaza, the action can be viewed from 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.

Getting there and around

Hotels around Nagasaki

Top rated in Nagasaki
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    • Fujiwara Ryokan
      Budget-friendly
      A 10-minute walk from JR Nagasaki Train Station, Fujiwara Ryokan offers simple Japanese-style accommodations. Guests can relax in the shared bath and use free Wi-Fi at the entire property. Nagasaki Port Ferry Terminal is a 15-minute walk away. The air-conditioned rooms feature tatami (woven-straw) floors and Japanese futon bedding. Japanese Yukata robes are provided for all guests and rooms include an en suite bathroom with a shower. A fridge and a TV comes in each room. A coin-launderette is on site and luggage storage is offered at the front desk. Japanese dishes featuring seasonal ingredients are served for breakfast at the dining room. Ryokan Fujiwara is a 5-minute walk from Shofuku-ji Temple and a 15-minute walk from Nagasaki China Town. Nagasaki Museum of History and Culture is a mere 3-minute walk away.
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    • Mezame Hostel
      Budget-friendly
      Mezame Hostel is located in Nagasaki, 2.8 km from Nagasaki Museum of History and 2.3 km from Urakami Cathedral. With a bar, the 1-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a shared bathroom. The accommodation provides a shared kitchen, a shared lounge and luggage storage for guests. At the hostel, every room is fitted with a desk. Popular points of interest near Mezame Hostel include Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace Park and 26 Martyrs Museum. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 17 km from the accommodation.
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    • HafH Nagasaki SAI
      Budget-friendly
      Boasting a shared lounge, terrace and views of city, HafH Nagasaki SAI is set in Nagasaki, 1.3 km from Nagasaki Museum of History. With a bar, the 2-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The hostel has family rooms. Continental and Full English/Irish breakfast options are available every morning at the hostel. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 4 km from HafH Nagasaki SAI, while Peace Park is 5 km from the property. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 19 km from the accommodation.
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    • Nisshokan Bettei Koyotei
      Luxury
      Nisshokan Bettei Koyotei is located in the Nagasaki Area, a 10-minute drive from Nagasaki Peace Park. Featuring views of the beautiful Nagasaki, it offers a public bath and free parking. Bettei Koyotei Nisshokan is a 15-minute drive from Glover Garden. JR Nagasaki Train Station is a 5-minute drive from the hotel, and a free shuttle is provided. The Japanese-style guestrooms offer both air-conditioning and heating facilities, and an en suite bathroom. Each room is equipped with a fridge, tea/coffee making facilities and a TV with cable channels. Guests can take a relaxing bath while enjoying the views of Nagasaki. There is a gift shop on-site. A Japanese breakfast set can be enjoyed in rooms. Drinks can be purchased from the vending machine on-site.
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    • ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel
      Budget-friendly
      ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel is set in Nagasaki, 3.1 km from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum and 3.7 km from Peace Park. Among the facilities at this property are a shared kitchen and luggage storage space, along with free WiFi throughout the property. The hostel features family rooms. The units will provide guests with a microwave. Popular points of interest near the hostel include Nagasaki Museum of History, 26 Martyrs Museum and Fukusaiji Temple. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 18 km from ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel.
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    • Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort
      Luxury
      Located in Mount Inasa, boasting skyline view of Nagasaki city, Garden Terrace Nagasaki Hotel & Resort in Nagasaki has a number of amenities including a seasonal outdoor swimming pool and a bar. With free WiFi, this hotel offers free shuttle service and a 24-hour front desk. Nagasaki Station is a 10-minute drive away, while the property is a 15-minute drive from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. All air-conditioned units at the hotel come with a flat-screen TV with cable channels and Blu-ray player, a coffee machine and a fridge. All rooms has an ocean view with a terrace. The private bathroom with includes a bathrobe, hairdryer and free toiletries. This hotel offers guests a relaxing experience with on-site spa services at "SPA RICH". This hotel offers a Japanese-style cuisine and tempura restaurant "Akizuki", French restaurant "Restaurant Forest", Sushi restaurant "Tenku" and Teppanyaki-grill restaurant "Chikusai". Guests can choose from Japanese-style or Western-style breakfast every morning at this hotel. Popular points of interest near Garden Terrace Nagasaki include a 15-minute drive to Peace Park and 20-minute drive to Glover Garden.
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    • GRAND BASE Nagasaki City
      Mid-range
      Set within 300 metres of Nagasaki Museum of History and 3.5 km of Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum in Nagasaki, GRAND BASE Nagasaki City offers accommodation with free WiFi and seating area. Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with bidet, a hairdryer and free toiletries. A microwave, a fridge and stovetop are also offered, as well as a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Fukusaiji Temple, Megane Bridge and Suwa Shrine. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 18 km from GRAND BASE Nagasaki City.
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    • Hotel Forza Nagasaki
      Mid-range
      Opened in September 2014, Hotel Forza Nagasaki is non-smoking hotel located in the centre of Nagasaki, a 3-minute stroll from Shianbashi area and China Town. The hotel offers free WiFi access and all rooms are equipped with an iPad. Rooms at Nagasaki Forza Hotel come with a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator and a trouser press. Private bathroom includes a shower, a bath and free toiletries. At Hotel Forza Nagasaki you will find a 24-hour front desk and luggage storage service. Guests are able to dine at the on-site restaurant or shop at the mall on the lower levels of the building. The hotel is a minute walk from Kanko Dori Dentei Stop on Nagasaki Dentetsu. It is a 5-minute drive to Nagasaki Museum of History and to Nagasaki Train Station. Nagasaki Airport is a 45-minute drive away.
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    • JR Kyushu Hotel Nagasaki
      Mid-range
      Conveniently located to JR Nagasaki Station and Amu Plaza Nagasaki Shopping Mall, JR Kyushu Hotel Nagasaki features modern rooms with a flat-screen TV, electric kettle and bathroom with bath, shower and free toiletries. Free Wi-Fi is available at all areas. A relaxing massage can be arranged at an additional fee. Other guest facilities include a coin launderette and a beverage vending machine. Suwa Shrine and Heiwa Park are a 10-minute drive from JR Kyushu Hotel Nagasaki. A 45-minute drive leads to Nagasaki Airport. The hotel is located above Amu Plaza Nagasaki Shopping Mall, which offers various restaurant options.
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    • Ambiera Doza
      Mid-range
      Located in Nagasaki, near Nagasaki Museum of History, Oura Catholic Church and Glover Garden, Ambiera Doza features free WiFi. All units here are air-conditioned and feature a flat-screen TV, a living room, a well-equipped kitchen with a dining area, and a private bathroom with bidet, a hairdryer and free toiletries. A microwave, a fridge and stovetop are also provided, as well as a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Minato Park, Nagasaki Dejima and Sofukuji Temple. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 20 km from Ambiera Doza.
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