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What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 15:34
I've enjoyed the few general questions others have asked recently while travel isn't so feasible, so I thought I'd add one.

So 2 questions:
1. Of the festivals you've been to in Japan, which are your favorite? It doesn't have to be famous ones, either. Just whatever you did and enjoyed.

2. What festivals would you LIKE to experience?

There are quite a few festivals from around the country here if you want a reminder, want to see some you may not be aware of. (It also has a vote/rank feature, which is sort of fun if you want to do that. There are a few non-festival ones, too, but the festivals are divided by seasons, so there are 4):
https://www.ranker.com/writer/phibbyfan

by Rabbityama  

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 15:49
My favorite festival is Akita's Kanto Festival. It is so tremendously beautiful, but also exciting and impressive! It is also relatively calm and peaceful:
https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3627.html
by Uji rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 16:42
Just reading this thread will make me sad.
I managed to get Hotels for all three most famous tohoku festivals (Akita, Hirosaki and Aomori) and additionalls some local secret ones and even match them perfectly into my route from a time perspective.

Now all of them have been cancelled. :-(

Best festivals beside them:
* Most fun: Kurama no Hi Matsuri
* Most erotic: Awa Odori
* Creepiest god-thrones: Osorezan Taisai matsuri
* Most white-faced women: Aoi matsuri
* (Not a real genuin matsuri, but still cool): That fireworks festival on lake suwa (the best of the best if you like fireworks)
* For those who like horses, but dont care how they are treated: Soma nomaoi

Never been to any Tokyo festival (cause i dont like being there), but i heard they are most fun for young people
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 17:46
My favorite was the lantern festival around Gion/Kiyomizudera, but probably because it was just a great night when we chanced upon it several years ago.

I have been to quite a few others, but that was my favorite.
by Lazy Pious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 18:27

Awa Odori
Both Nagaoka and Omagari Fireworks
by shinji (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/23 22:57
I also really loved Akita's Kanto matsuri; of the Tohoku Sandai it was definitely my favorite! But I also really liked that anyone could join Aomori's nebuta matsuri. I hope one day I can bring my kids to see it, and we can all join in as a family to dance!

Another matsuri that is amazing to join in is the Gujo Odori in Gujo-Hachiman. It lasts a full month, in a different place every night, and a few nights during obon are even all-night dances. Each night there are secret judges who will give a few of the best dancers each day a certificate of accomplishment, which is a bit of an exciting side contest. I got the chance to dance one night, and even received a certificate, so I really want to go back again!

When most people think festivals they think of summer ones, but I live near a place called Onishi, which means "demon rock" in Japanese. Every year during setsubun, they do a special chant; instead of "demons out, luck in!" (oni was soto, fuku wa uchi!) they invite the oni in! (oni wa uchi, fuku mo uchi!) It's not the easiest place to get to, but it really retains a lot of its small-town atmosphere so I really like it when I get the chance to go! Their summer festival is really fun, too.

by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/24 16:08
It's fun reading everyone's answers. I'll answer my own question now.

There are a lot of fun festivals and I've been lucky to go and stumble upon many.

Some of my favorites have been:
- Tsushima Tenno Festival in Aichi (just watching them light the lanterns one by one was nice, and then seeing them sail is a pretty sight)
- Saidaiji Eyo in Okayama (The energy really builds up as the festival leads into the evening and the main event. It's fun and the competition to get the shingi can get fierce)
- Hinkoko Festival in Gifu (they perform a story with large puppets on a stick at the shrine)
- Kingyo Lantern Festival in Yamaguchi (The lanterns are pretty and the floats are fun)
- Yabusame in Kyoto (horse archery is always exciting and impressive)
- Suhotei-sai in Yamaguchi (they balance long bamboo poles, maybe like a smaller version of the Akita festival)
- Awa Odori in Tokushima is worth going to at least once, and other similar festivals like Kochi's Yosakoi, Okayama's Uraja/Momotaro Festival, etc. are also a lot of fun.

As for festivals I want to go to, there are many of those, as well. I was thinking about going to Sendai's Tanabata Festival this year until everything shut down and the festival was cancelled, so that means I'd still like to go. The Kanto Festival is always highly recommended (even above), so I'd love to see it. Actually, all of the famous Tohoku festivals (Nebuta Festival, Hanagasa, etc.) sound like fun.
I've told myself I was going to go to the Gujo Odori for years and still haven't gone. Same for the Takayama Festival.
The Nachi Katsuura Fire Festival also sounds really great. Sapporo Snow Festival, some Namahage... I'll stop there, but Japan definitely has a lot of great festivals.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/24 16:25


@scarreddragon:
Totally forgot about Gujo Odori. This is the least "planned" and structured festival in my opinion. The dancing is most genuine. Definitely great one.

This Onishi sounds super interesting and should like it would be totally my taste. is it this Onishi in Saitama?:
https://www.google.at/maps/place/Ԃ̋/@36.1621717,139.0596935,16.28z/data=!4m13!1m7!3m6!1s0x601ec06276685b05:0x3cd1fdcc012712e5!2sOnishi,+Fujioka,+Gunma,+Japan!3b1!8m2!3d36.1604067!4d139.053934!3m4!1s0x601ec05ab475d087:0xe68f8d85c263fc0b!8m2!3d36.17838!4d139.0705687

@Rabbityama
thanks a lot for listing such interesting festivals, that were totally off my radar yet!
by Glimpigumpi rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/24 21:52
@Glimpigumpi That's it! Although it's actually right across the border in Gunma Prefecture :)

@Rabbityama, the yabusame exhibitions are held in lots of places all over Japan! There's a local one I try to go see every year; I think I've heard that the same group visits many places. A friend of mine goes to one near Yokohama that sounds really amazing, as it's actually held on a beach!

I also forgot about Yamagata's Hanagasa matsuri. I've never gotten to see it, but I did have the chance to learn the dance, and was gifted a hanagasa hat which I still have! I enjoyed it the dance a lot :)
by scarreddragon rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/25 04:24
Chagu-chagu umakko in Morioka is hard to beat, especially if you like horses and small children. And baby horses.

I went to Hyakumangoku Matsuri in Kanazawa for the first time last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. However, it was far from what I expected. I thought it was going to be sort of like a Hokuriku version of Aoi Matsuri or something, with lots of entries of people in historical costumes. They actually did have a little of that at the end, but more than anything it was a hometown parade with marching bands, baton twirlers, and Boy Scouts in uniform. Lots and lots of troops of local kids with lots and lots of proud parents and grandparents there to wave and cheer them on. It was actually a bit too long for me, but I was thoroughly enchanted by the spirit of it.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/25 05:52
I should add that there is a lot more to Hyakumangoku Matsuri than the parade. They have tea ceremony events, fire brigade acrobatics exhibitions, an evening light-up at Kenrokuen, and other things, including food vendors of all kinds. I especially enjoyed the parade, though. But people who are expecting something more serious and formal or historically "authentic" might be disappointed.

One nice thing about both Chagu-Chagu Umakko and Hyakumangoku Matsuri is that the parades are timed such that you can actually attend them as a day trip from Tokyo, if you choose to. (So if it looks like they are going to get rained out, or if you just change your mind about going, you can cancel your train reservations and do something else that day.) Because of the train costs, you'd be crazy to do it without a rail pass, but I've done it with chagu-chagu. The parade for Hyakumangoku Matsuri starts quite late in the day, so you could also get to it from Kyoto if you wanted to. There doesn't seem to be much problem getting hotel reservations in town for either festival, though. Or for Chagu-Chagu you could stay in Sendai, and for Hyakumangoku you could stay in Nagano (for example). Flexibility in situations like this is one of the great benefits of the various JR passes for foreigners, and often underappreciated by the many people who make rail pass purchase decisions based solely on an inflexible fixed itinerary and a calculation of whether tickets for it are cheaper than a rail pass.
by Kim (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/25 12:35
I attended was the Gifu Tejikara Fire Festival a few years ago. Absolute craziness.

But I think my favourite is the Akita Kanto Matsuri.

by curious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/27 19:40
@curious: How was the Tejikara Festival? Was it easy to get a good view? I really liked the Katsube Fire Festival in Shiga, but I had to get there 3 hours early to get a decent spot to watch, so it wasn't such a casual festival. I couldn't walk around and enjoy it, because I didn't want to lose my spot. Was the Tejikara Festival like that?

@scareddragon: Along with yabusame, kemari is another good event that can be seen at different places.

by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/29 10:22
@Rabbityama,The area for the floats and fireworks, etc. was roped off. So there really wasn't anything to walk around and see. I got there about 2 hours early and was able to secure a great spot to watch. When I arrived there was no one where I was so I stood...can't really sit down on the ground...too old...back and knee problems. But by the time the festival started there was a crowd around and behind me. I got yelled at to sit down...which I didn't appreciate considering I had arrived there first and had been standing there for 2 hours, but oh well. Anyways there were two viewing areas. The one I was at, I would consider to be off to the side but I had a great view because all the guys carrying the floats were walking directly towards me so I could see everything. The other viewing area was a slope on a hill where the largest crowd was gathered. That area was really crowded when I arrived, so I just stayed off to the side and it paid off.

Here's a video I shot from where I was. This was shot with a 50mm (i.e. not a zoom) lens. So it gives you a fairly good idea of just how close to the action I was.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERZnQ838kB4
by curious (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/4/29 22:45
by Kappa (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/5/6 22:13
@curious: Thank you for the response and link! It definitely looks like a fun festival. Maybe I'll try to go sometime.
by Rabbityama rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/5/11 15:35
My favourite is the Fujinomiya Autumn Festival - each town district has a festival float. The last night of the festival the floats all roam the streets and battle each other with music - https://japan-magazine.jnto.go.jp/en/1609_fujinomiyamatsuri.html or https://akimiya.com/reiwa1
by SabCoven (guest) rate this post as useful

Re: What are your favorite festivals? 2020/5/14 14:59
My favorite festival is the Akita's Kanto Festival. It is so tremendously beautiful, but also exciting and impressive!

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by bobyboys rate this post as useful

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