The temple at Narita-san is beautiful any time of year, but the beginning of spring is one of the best times to visit. Not only are the ume and sakura trees in blooms, but every year in April there is the nationally famous Narita Taiko Festival. Two days of performances, concerts, street food, and festivities; it’s definitely a must see!
Many familiar with Japanese traditional music, or Japan in general, probably know about taiko. Taiko, or Japanese drums, have been part of tradition and culture in Japan for centuries. Used during warfare, they were a way to motivate troops and to intimidate the enemy. Anyone who has heard the booming of many taikos before can testify that if you heard that from the opposing side, you would be intimidated too! However, since there are no longer feudal era wars going on in Japan, taiko is used for entertainment and art today. There are several different classifications of taiko performance, but the most well-known is kumi-daiko, which is a type of group performance.
Nartia’s Taiko Festival usually falls on the second weekend of April every year. On both days of the festival, there is a morning concert of 30 or more different taiko groups. While each group gets an introduction and short opening, the main event is all the players playing the same song. Promotions for the event say that this event can be heard from 10km away!
Throughout the days, there are various stages set up for different groups and performances along Omotesando, the road leading to Narita-san. Besides taiko, there are other traditional Japanese music and dance events as well. There is also a wide variety of street food and stalls well worth a look.
The main event of the festival is the Saturday evening concert. On the steps of the temple, several groups perform into the night illuminated by spotlights and more traditional fire torches. The atmosphere of the temple is made even more impressive by the skillful playing of professional taiko groups that come from all over the country to perform.
The next day ends the festival with a Parade from JR Narita Station down Omotesando to end at the temple. Every taiko group that played in any event during the festival takes part in the parade, so it’s a great way to see the various kinds of groups and skill levels all at once.
Even if you don’t know much about taiko, the Narita Taiko Festival is a great event to see! Not only is it full of exciting activities and amazing musicians, it is a cool opportunity to experience a bit of traditional Japan.
You can find more information about this event at Narita’s tourism website.