3 Spectacular Must-See Boat Festivals to Include in Your Travels!

  • It is no exaggeration to say that Japan is a land of festivals as there are many different kinds of festivals held there throughout the year. The Japanese Boat Festivals use boats in celebration and they have different backstories and folklore behind them. Here are the 3 most spectacular boat festivals to check out on your travels.

    1. Sea Crossing Festival (Umi-wo-wataru-reisai)

    Umi-wo-wataru-reisai or the ‘Sea Crossing Festival’ is held on the last weekend of July at Aoshima shrine in Aoshima island, which is a small island located in Miyazaki. The shrine is dedicated to the deities Hikohohodemi, Toyotama-hime and Shiotsutsu no Ookami.

    Aoshima Shrine


    The Sea Crossing Festival is one of the oldest and highly energetic festivals in Japan. It is a two-day festival where the enshrined deities are placed on a portable shrine and brought into the sea on a boat named ‘Gozabune’ accompanied by some other fishing boats.


    Young men rush into the sea to take the portable shrine off the boats and carry them back to the land. The spirit and energy of this festival are outlandishly awesome.


    2. Tenjin Matsuri

    Tenjin Matsuri is one of the three greatest festivals of Japan and is held at the Tenmangu Shrine in Osaka, which is also one of the oldest shrines in Japan. During the festival, a portable shrine is released into the river near the shrine and local people ride on boats welcoming the portable shrine. The festival is held in the end of July as well and is a visual treat for tourists.

    Tenmangu Shrine


    Osaka Info Website
    Tenjin Website

    3. Kibune Matsuri


    Kibune Matsuri or Kifune Festival is one of the largest marine festivals of Japan and is held in Manazuru, Kanagawa prefecture also in July. This old and pious festival is also conducted in the end of July filling the whole air of Manazuru with excitement. During this festival, a boat is colorfully decorated and has a live traditional band playing music, local people dancing and so on. The boat is called ‘Kobaya-bune’ and the dance is known as ‘ Kashima-odori’. This festival attracts many tourists from across the globe and is considered as a significant intangible cultural asset of Japan by the Japanese Government.

    Website*Japanese Only

    These festivals are a visual treat to the eye and mind, so if you are planning to visit Japan next year, be sure to include at least one of these festivals in your travel plans.

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