I recently had the wonderful opportunity to witness and experience the beautiful Handa Float Festival (Handa Dashi Matsuri) in the city of Handa, Aichi. Only held once every five years, the event in October 2017 was the 8th edition of the festival. This two-day celebration has gained immense popularity due to a similar Japanese festival called the Handa Spring Float Festival. Here are four things to do at the Handa Float Festival to make the most of your time there!
The festival brings 31 different floats or dashi, originally from different districts and are often used for ritual and processions, together for display. Visitors flock from different parts of Japan to see the beauty and tradition that come with the floats, which have stunning embroidery, wooden carvings, dressed puppets, and people sitting atop. It is very exciting to see each float being brought forward and how the strong men carry them with immense strength.
After the sunset, the festival’s charm is doubled with a wonderful fireworks display. The unique part about it is that they are displayed on water. Their brilliant colors and reflection in the water make the experience visually more appealing and enjoyable.
Just like every other festival, the Handa Float Festival also has a wide range of food offerings and various stalls of okonomiyaki, takoyaki, karaage, choco banana, candy apple, yakisoba, and many more. The event is a suitable experience for anyone as you can enjoy it with your friends, family, and kids. There is enough room for people to come and picnic after seeing the festival as there is space in the garden where one can have a nice meal.
The nearest train station to get to the venue of the festival is Chita Handa Station. Handa is a quaint little city in Aichi and one can explore it before or after attending the Handa Float Festival.
Among the many sightseeing places and museums in the area, there is one specialty museum called Kunizakari Sake Culture Museum which can take you to sake making tours and sake tasting. It is also very tourist-friendly as a video explanation of the entire tour is available in English.
There is another museum called Mizkan Museum which wonderfully explains the history of rice vinegar in Japan. The short video during the museum tour is very interesting. The “put a picture of yourself on a rice vinegar bottle” at the end is also a nice and unique souvenir.
To sum it all up, Aichi Prefecture’s Handa Float Festival is the perfect time to culturally immerse yourself while enjoying the best of Japanese traditions, beautiful carriage displays, and stunning fireworks. This is one of those rare festivals that occur only once every few years. The next one will be in 2022, so make sure to turn up at the event as you wouldn’t want to miss the chance to be a part of it!
Handa Float Festival Website *Automatic translation available