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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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    • i + Land Nagasaki
      Luxury
      Renovated in April 2018, i + Land Nagasaki is 18.5 km or a 40-minute drive from Nagasaki Station. A hot spring bath, sauna, garden and kids area are available for guests. The property provides a 24-hour front desk. An Asian breakfast is served daily at the property. Guests can make use of the sauna. Cycling is among the activities that guests can enjoy near the resort. Nagasaki Museum of History is 11 km from i + Land Nagasaki, while Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 11 km from the property. Nagasaki Airport is 27 km away.
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    • Hilton Nagasaki
      Luxury
      Located 400 metres from Nagasaki Station, Hilton Nagasaki offers 5-star accommodation in Nagasaki and features a fitness centre, a restaurant and a bar. This 5-star hotel offers a 24-hour front desk and a concierge service. The property is non-smoking and is set 1.4 km from Nagasaki Museum of History. The hotel will provide guests with air-conditioned rooms with a desk, a kettle, a fridge, a safety deposit box, a TV and a private bathroom with a shower. All units include a wardrobe. Guests at Hilton Nagasaki can enjoy a buffet breakfast. The accommodation offers 5-star accommodation with a spa centre. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 2.8 km from Hilton Nagasaki, while Peace Park is 3.4 km away. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 39 km from the hotel.
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    • ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel
      Budget-friendly
      Featuring 2-star accommodation, ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel is located in Nagasaki, less than 1 km from Nagasaki Museum of History and 3.1 km from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. This 2-star hostel offers a shared kitchen, luggage storage space and free WiFi. The property is non-smoking and is set 300 metres from Nagasaki Station. Some rooms come with a kitchen with a stovetop. At the hostel all rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. The area is popular for cycling, and bike hire is available at this 2-star hostel. Peace Park is 3.7 km from ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel, while Oura Catholic Church is 2.5 km away. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 39 km from the accommodation.
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    • Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae
      Luxury
      Featuring 4-star accommodation, Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae is set in Nagasaki, 400 metres from Nagasaki Station and less than 1 km from Nagasaki Museum of History. With a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. Private parking is available on site. At the hotel, every room is equipped with a desk and a flat-screen TV. At Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae the rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the accommodation. Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae offers 4-star accommodation with a sauna and spa centre. Languages spoken at the reception include English and Japanese. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 3 km from the hotel, while Peace Park is 3.6 km from the property. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from Dormy Inn Premium Nagasaki Ekimae.
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    • GRAND BASE Nagasaki Chukagai
      Mid-range
      Located in Nagasaki, near Nagasaki Station, Nagasaki Museum of History and Oura Catholic Church, GRAND BASE Nagasaki Chukagai features free WiFi. Accommodation is fitted with air conditioning, a fully equipped kitchen with a dining area, a flat-screen TV and a private bathroom with bidet, free toiletries and a hairdryer. A fridge and microwave are also provided, as well as a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Glover Garden, Minato Park and Nagasaki Dejima. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from GRAND BASE Nagasaki Chukagai.
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    • GRAND BASE Nagasaki
      Mid-range
      Situated within 1.8 km of Nagasaki Station and 1.9 km of Nagasaki Museum of History in Nagasaki, GRAND BASE Nagasaki features accommodation with free WiFi and seating area. Every unit has a private bathroom and bidet, air conditioning, a flat-screen TV and a fridge. There is also a microwave, stovetop and a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Oura Catholic Church, Glover Garden and Minato Park. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from GRAND BASE Nagasaki.
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    • hotel H2 TRIP&BUSINESS NAGASAKI
      Mid-range
      Located in Nagasaki and with Nagasaki Museum of History reachable within 1.3 km, hotel H2 TRIP&BUSINESS NAGASAKI provides concierge services, non-smoking rooms, a shared lounge, free WiFi throughout the property and a terrace. Featuring a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with a restaurant. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 3.9 km from the hotel and Peace Park is 4.6 km away. Guest rooms are equipped with air conditioning, a flat-screen TV with satellite channels, a fridge, a kettle, a bidet, free toiletries and a desk. The units include a safety deposit box. Breakfast is available daily, and includes buffet, continental and American options. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Nagasaki Station, Oura Catholic Church and Glover Garden. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from hotel H2 TRIP&BUSINESS NAGASAKI.
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    • Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown
      Luxury
      Featuring 4-star accommodation, Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown is located in Nagasaki, 1.6 km from Nagasaki Museum of History and 4 km from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Featuring a restaurant, the 4-star hotel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi, each with a private bathroom. The property is non-smoking and is set 1.5 km from Nagasaki Station. The units in the hotel are equipped with a flat-screen TV. At Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown all rooms are fitted with bed linen and towels. Guests at the accommodation can enjoy a buffet breakfast. Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown offers 4-star accommodation with a sauna, hot tub and spa centre. Around-the-clock information is available at the reception, where staff speak English, Japanese and Korean. Popular points of interest near the hotel include Oura Catholic Church, Glover Garden and Nagasaki Dejima. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from Candeo Hotels Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown.
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    • THE GLOBAL VIEW Nagasaki
      Luxury
      Featuring massage services, 3 restaurants and a concierge, THE GLOBAL VIEW Nagasaki is situated right outside Takaramachi Tram Station, which is the 2nd station from Nagasaki Station. WiFi is accessible in all areas of the hotel and rooms include a private bathroom and a flat-screen TV. Guests at THE GLOBAL VIEW Nagasaki stay in contemporary rooms with a fridge and safe with complimentary green and black teas. The private bathroom has a bathtub and toiletries, while pajamas are provided. JR Nagasaki Train Station is an 8-minute walk away. Guests can also take a sight-seeing bus from the front side of this hotel. Nagasaki Peace Park and Urakami Cathedral are 10-minutes away via car, while Nagasaki Airport is a 50-minute ride away on the express bus service. The Kitchen boasts 15th floor views of Nagasaki City and serves a sumptuous Japanese and Western breakfast buffet comprised from over 40 different dishes. Coffee and snacks are served at Cafe de Bijoux.
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    • Luke Plaza Hotel
      Luxury
      Located on Inasa Mountain, Luke Plaza Hotel features spectacular views from its comfortable rooms, restaurant and bar. It provides a free shuttle service that takes 7 minutes to/from JR Nagasaki Station. Free Wifi is available throughout the property, and free parking is available. Spacious, carpeted rooms feature a seating area with tranquil garden views, or lively views of the city or harbour lights. Amenities include a flat-screen TV, a minibar and a bathrobe. Complimentary green tea is provided. The front desk at Hotel Luke Plaza is staffed 24 hours, and it offers fax and photocopying services. Drinks can be purchased throughout the day at vending machines. The restaurant features a breakfast buffet with a wide variety of Japanese and Western food. A relaxing tea time can be enjoyed at the bright cafe on the ground floor. Luke Plaza Hotel is a 5-minute drive from the top of Inasa Mountain, which is famous for its night views. It's a 10-minute walk from the Inasa Goshin-ji Temple.
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