Japan’s Impressive 10 Best Winter Festivals, Selected by Experts

  • In Japan there are four seasons, and in each season special festivals are held.
    This article will introduce the 10 best winter festivals, as selected by experts.
    These are chances to experience Japan’s time-honored culture, so definitely try visiting them one day.

    Shujo Onie

    The fire festival has been held for more than 1000 years, and has been designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset.
    The demon that appears in the festival is an ancestor who has changed form, and signifies meeting our ancestors.

    Japanese notation:修正鬼会


    A Shinto ritual passed down since the 1200s.
    40 kinds of dances are presented all night.

    Japanese notation:花祭
    URL※Only Japanese

    Otou matsuri

    Men in white clothing receive torches containing sacred flames, and run from Kamikura Shrine.

    Japanese notation:お燈まつり
    URL※Only Japanese

    Hachinohe enburi

    They wear traditional hats, and perform dances with rice-planting movements.
    You are also treated to the region’s special Senbei-jiru (cracker soup).

    Japanese notation:八戸えんぶり
    URL※Only Japanese

    Nagasaki rantan festival

    15,000 lanterns (Chinese paper lanterns) are set up around the center of the city, giving it an exotic atmosphere.
    Objects of art are lined up at the site, and events such as dragon-dances and parades are held.
    The Lunar New Year dishes are also appealing.

    Japanese notation:長崎ランタンフェスティバル
    URL※Only Japanese

    Saidaiji eyou

    9000 men participate in a competition for a sacred talisman.
    The champion of a Hadaka Matsuri (“Naked Festival”) in Japan.

    Japanese notation:西大寺会陽
    URL※Only Japanese

    Yokote kamakura bonden

    From inside the igloo, children shout “Come on in!”
    In this event, prayers are offered to the water god in anticipation of an abundant harvest.

    Japanese notation:横手かまくら・ぼんでん
    URL※Only Japanese

    Niino no Yukimatsuri

    In prayer for an abundant harvest, they present a dance all night, while wearing masks.

    Japanese notation:新野の雪まつり
    URL※Only Japanese

    NAmahage sedomatsuri

    Among the reverberations of hand drums, demons holding torches descend from the snowy mountain to the shrine, and visit houses.
    This is designated as a significant intangible folk cultural asset.

    Japanese notation:なまはげ柴灯(せど)まつり

    Sapporo yukimatsuri

    Japan’s representative winter festival.
    More than 200 snow and ice sculptures are lined up in three sites around the city, which becomes crowded with tourists from inside and outside the country.

    Japanese notation:さっぽろ雪まつり


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