How to Find Your Perfect Festival

Impressive handmade floats at the Mikuni Matsuri, Fukui

Japan is the land of the festival. From fireworks to snow sculpture, from heaving massive floats to all night dances, festivals range from the divine to the extreme and everything in between. Some festivals will draw crowds in the millions, others will be smaller, hidden in local shrines and go unnoticed by most travellers. Luckily for visitors, festivals are spread throughout the year and chances are you will be able to experience a festival of some kind during your stay.  But where to find them? A google search for 'Must see festivals in Japan' will bring up many options of course, but if you would like a more targeted approach, I recommend the Oh! Matsuri website. I stumbled across this just last week and, oh the fun I have had searching and planning summer festival adventures! The search function allows users to search by date, region and even prefecture to find festivals that line up with their plans, brilliant. Of course, it would be nigh on impossible to list every festival in Japan but the range of listings seems quite comprehensive.
So what has caught my eye?
1. The Taga Taisha Mantousai (10,000 lantern festival). 10,000 lanterns are strung up in the grounds of Taga Shrine, an impressive looking building in itself.

2. The Kariya Mandou Matsuri. This looks like the closest I will get to experiencing Aomori's incredible Nebuta Festival.

3. The Abare Festival, in Noto, Ishikawa Prefecture. This involves huge burning torches and frenzied smashing of mikoshi, not for the faint of heart or the kids I imagine!

4. The Nara Tokae Festival, a light up of 20,000 candles in Nara Park. My home town has a sister city relationship with Nara, and our own, smaller version of the event so I would love to see the real thing!

Clockwise from top: Abare Festival, Nara Tokae, Kariya Festival, Taga Taisha Mantousai

Do yourself a favour, check out Oh! Matsuri, and experience a Japanese Festival for yourself!
Photo Credits - Creative Commons
Nara Tokae Minoir
Taga Taisha Mantousai M.Kawai
Abare Festival Adam Kahtava
Kariya Festival At_by_At

Travelling Firefly