Boat parties, kite flying and grand parades – Spring/Summer in Japan is a time for vibrant Festivals. Here are four you simply cannot miss.
Where: Nakatajima Dunes, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture
When: May 3rd – 5th 2015
Nakatajima Dunes wear an umbrella of colours as the sky fills up with kites. Some sway, some move with a rush, as they cut past one another. Trumpets announce the commencing battle and the air gushes with excitement. Watch the strings intertwine, cut one another and striving to endure till the end. No worries even if you don’t want to compete — fly your kite just for fun in the open space nearby. The spectacular Hamamatsu Festival dates back to the 16th Century when large kites were flown on the joyous occasion of the birth of the Lord’s son, and is still celebrated with the same enthusiasm across the city.
When: May 15th, 2015
A 1000 year old festival, highlighted by a magnificent procession in Kyoto city. Time travel to the 10th century as more than 500 people parade through the main streets of Kyoto, dressed in extravagant costumes of the past and traditional makeup. An unmarried woman is selected to lead all the other women — she will be dressed in 12 layers of Kimono. Dance performance and horsing events also add charm to the clebrations.
Shunki Reitaisai (Grand festival of Spring)
Where: Nikko Toshogu Shrine, Nikkō, Tochigi Prefecture
When: May 17th and 18th
The spring parade, Hyakumono Zoroe Sennin Gyoretsu recreates the scene of Tokugawa’s grave being transferred to honor his will. A thousand men on horsebacks, representing the dignified samurai warriors in their full armour, is an impressive sight especially when they shoot at their targets with finesse! The parade staged, at the world heritage site departs from the Otabisho shrine, and will captivate your attention the melodious ancient court music and spirited dance performances too.
Where: Oigawa River, Asahi-cho, Saga, Ukyo-ku, Kyoto City
When: Third Sunday of May
Celebrating a 1000 year old boat party on the Oigawa River that was held upon receiving the Emperor on his visit, the ceremonies start with a procession along the beautiful Togetsukyo bridge. Revelers then board their boats, some with dragon heads or with bird heads. Each boat is unique — one for the musicians, another for the dancers, more for little kids in their pretty kimonos.
Read more about the festivals here