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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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    • 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. Featuring a bar, the 2-star hostel has air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The hostel has family rooms. At the hostel the rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. Continental and Full English/Irish breakfast options are available every morning at HafH Nagasaki SAI. Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum is 4 km from the accommodation, while Peace Park is 5 km from the property. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from HafH Nagasaki SAI.
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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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    • 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. Featuring 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, each room comes with a desk. At Mezame Hostel every room is fitted with bed linen and towels. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum, Peace Park and 26 Martyrs Museum. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 38 km from Mezame Hostel.
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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. Some rooms come with a kitchen with a stovetop. At the hostel all rooms are equipped with bed linen and towels. Guests at ROUTE - Cafe and Petit Hostel will be able to enjoy activities in and around Nagasaki, like cycling. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Nagasaki Museum of History, 26 Martyrs Museum and Fukusaiji Temple. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 40 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 Chukagai
      Mid-range
      Located in Nagasaki, near Nagasaki Museum of History, Oura Catholic Church and Glover Garden, 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, slippers and a hairdryer. There is also a microwave, fridge and a kettle. Popular points of interest near the aparthotel include Minato Park, Nagasaki Dejima and Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 20 km from GRAND BASE Nagasaki Chukagai.
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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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    • 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, slippers and a hairdryer. 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, 37 km from GRAND BASE Nagasaki City.
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    • Dormy Inn Nagasaki Ekimae
      Luxury
      Featuring a spa and wellness centre, Dormy Inn Nagasaki Ekimae is set in Nagasaki in the Nagasaki region, 1.1 km from Nagasaki Museum of History and 3 km from Nagasaki Atomic Bomb Museum. Boasting a 24-hour front desk, this property also provides guests with a restaurant. Free WiFi is available and private parking can be arranged at an extra charge. A buffet breakfast is available every morning at the hotel. At Dormy Inn Nagasaki Ekimae guests are welcome to take advantage of a sauna. Popular points of interest near the accommodation include Fukusaiji Temple, 26 Martyrs Museum and Megane Bridge. The nearest airport is Nagasaki Airport, 37 km from Dormy Inn Nagasaki Ekimae.
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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. 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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