Shikoku is the smallest of the 4 main islands in Japan and is located in the south-western part just below largest island Honshu. It is a very scenic island with beautiful vistas and plenty of interesting places to visit, and it is famous for its shrines and temples. Shikoku has four provinces or prefectures, namely Ehime, Kagawa, Kochi and Tokushima prefectures. There are many festivals happening in these four prefectures. Out of these, let me introduce you to 3 festivals which attract hundreds of tourists from all around the country and even abroad with their colorfulness and beautiful sights!
This upbeat festival is held in Kochi city. People wear both traditional and modern dresses and dance along the streets while playing their wooden clappers. These wooden clappers are called ‘Naruko’, and produce a unique sound. Naruko are normally used by farmers to drive away birds from the fields. People started to use them in contemporary music, and after that, they became a part of the festival. Yosakoi is a festival similar to Awa Odori, and besides traditional music, you will hear modern music as well. This festival doesn’t just happen in 1 location, it can be enjoyed in a whole district of the city. You can experience this festival between August 9 and August 12 in the commercial district of Kochi city mostly, which is about a 15-minute walk from the main station.
Saijo is one of the largest festivals of Japan, and it is held in October. It is one of the ‘Danjiri Matsuri’, cart-pulling festivals. For this festival, a giant wooden shrine called a ‘Danjiri’ is built, along with hundreds of small portable shrines. They are paraded along the streets while men and women play taiko drums. It is a very colorful and vibrant festival you should not definitely not miss when you are in the area during autumn! It happens in the city of Saijo, in the Ehime prefecture. Saijo city lies at the base of Mount Ishizuchi, the tallest mountain in western Japan.
Niihama is a mid-sized city in the eastern part of Ehime prefecture. It is famous for its Taiko festival (also known as The Man Festival, ‘otokomatsuri’) which attracts hundred of thousands of tourists from all around the world every year. During this festival, taiko drum floats decorated with gold and silver tassels are paraded around the city on the backs of the participants. There is a contest called ‘kaki kurabe’, where men compete to lift the floats for the longest amount of time.
People drink, relax, and enjoy this annual festival which lasts for three days, usually on October 16, 17, and 18. As the dates might change unexpectedly, it would be wise to double check the dates on beforehand.
Besides all the beautiful sights you can take in and the off-the-beaten-track attractions the island of Shikoku boasts, make sure you get to experience one of these 3 festivals as well during your visit. They let you take part in the unique festive culture of the island.