A trip to Japan is not complete without attending at least one festival. There are so many of these events taking place all year round, celebrating everything from the changing of seasons to ancient traditions, that it is likely you can be in Japan at the same time a festival is taking place. Whether it is a large city or a small village, most areas have their own local event.
Shizuoka is a warm southern prefecture around 90 to 120 minutes from Tokyo by train, with spectacular views of Mt. Fuji and many hot spring hotels and ryokans. What better way to spend your time in this gorgeous part of Japan than to attend the Shizuoka Matsuri, a three-day event where you can experience many of the usual festival activities?
The biggest spring festival in Shizuoka City will take place from the 30th of March to the 1st of April 2018. This huge event features floating shrines, dancing, parades, taiko drumming, cosplay, and impressive performances, all done by local people. Entrance to this event is free.
Local people prepare for months in advance to show their teamwork in group dances and performances, including acting and music shows. It is an impressive sight to see and even the children of Shizuoka are working hard to make the festival a success year after year.
There is a “yatai mura,” meaning outdoor food village, selling snacks and street food at stalls. Japanese festival food can vary, but you can expect to see pork buns (nikuman), grilled corn on the cob, Japanese savory pancake (okonomiyaki), and fried noodles (yakisoba). The sheer amount of things to do at this festival will keep you busy enough that you will feel quite exhausted by the end of it.
This is also the time of year when the nationally famous cherry blossom, locally known as “sakura,” are in bloom. This means that as well as enjoying the action on the ground, you will have spectacular views of cherry blossom trees as you watch the parades, see the floating shrine make its way through the town, check what treats the yatai food stalls have to offer, and maybe even join in the dancing.
If you are a photographer, you are guaranteed to see some amazing sights that capture Japanese culture. Smiling girls in kimonos ride the nebuta floats, men in traditional garb play instruments and dance, and thousands of people gather to celebrate and enjoy one of Shizuoka’s biggest events of the year by dancing, dressing up, and helping to carry the floating shrines.
So if you are going to be in Shizuoka Prefecture this spring 2018, you won’t be able to miss this enormous and widely loved festival that offers everything you could want at a Japanese matsuri! Even if you are staying in Tokyo or Kanagawa, Shizuoka is not so far away that you can’t get a train over there for a day or two. Bring your yukata, your camera, and your sense of adventure, and have a terrific time! Just be sure to book your hotel way in advance if you are hoping to spend the night there, as this festival is very popular.
Shizuoka Matsuri Website *Japanese only