Summer

10 Best Festivals to Enjoy Japanese Traditional Costumes

Ryusei

Yuasa

Writer

In our country, we have many traditional costumes which we wear on different occasions. You guys might have heard of Kimono, which is a traditional Japanese wear, and it is still worn on special days such as weddings or the coming-of-age ceremonies. Each traditional costume has a cultural meaning and reasons to wear, for example: worshiping the feudal lord back in the old days, or to scare off the bad spirits. We have a huge variety of these traditional costumes and you can see them at many of our festivals. In this article, I will introduce some great festivals where you get to see our best traditional costumes in Japan!


 

Contents

Festivals Where You Can See Kimono

1. The Marumage Festival
2. The Gion Festival
3. The Susukino Festival
4. The Shinagawa Shukuba Festival

Festivals Where You Can See Samurai Costumes

5. The Kishu Kudoyama Sanada Festival
6. The Echizen Asakura Sengoku Festival
7. The Obata cherry blossom Festival

Festivals Where You Can See Unique Costumes

8. The Namahage Festival
9. The Pantu Festival
10. The Hakata Dontaku Festival

Q/A

-Can we try wearing the costumes during the festivals as well?
-Are the people participating in the festivals real Samurais and Oirans?
-How much would it cost to buy a Kimono?
-Do you guys wear these costumes daily?

Festivals Where You Can See Kimono

Kimono is one of the most popular costumes in our culture. It was worn on a daily basis back in the old days by many people, and now we still wear it on special celebrating occasions such as weddings and other ceremonies.

1. The Marumage Festival in Toyama

Marumage is one of the traditional hairstyles that matched Kimono style and was a hairstyle for women who were married. Held in Himi city, Toyama Prefecture, this festival is meant to wish for a romantic marriage for a single woman. During the festival, hundreds of women who are single gather in beautiful Kimonos with the Marumage hairstyle and parade through the city. You will be able to see Kimono in many varieties and not only that, you get to participate yourself in this festival! This festival is a must-go festival if you want to see traditional Kimono. And for the single ladies, this festival is sure to give a great experience if you participate!

 

Details and Access

The festival is held each year on the 17th of April, and the closest station is the Himi station.
To participate in this festival, you must be a single female over 18 and must fill in an application sheet which can be downloaded at the website of the Himi festival. Be sure to apply early as there is a limited number of permissions to participate in the parade!
For more info, check below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3280/

2. The Gion Festival in Kyoto

Being one of the biggest festivals in Japan, Gion festival is taking place in Kyoto, for a whole month! The history of this festival goes all the way back to year 869, and over 1 million people come to visit in total! During this traditional festival, the city of Kyoto becomes full of people wearing a casual type of Kimono known as Yukata, with many colors and patterns. There are Yukatas for both men and women and the price is not too expensive. So, I recommend you to enjoy the city of Kyoto during this festival season with traditional music, beautifully illuminated floats, and great local food, wearing your own Yukata!

 

Details and Access

The festival is held in July for a month, so you will have plenty of time to visit.
You can get off at any of the subway stations between Kyoto station, Karasuma-oike station, Kyoto-shiyakusho-mae station, and Kawaramachi station.
I insist on using public transportation instead of a car as it gets really crowded.
For more info, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/982/

3.The Susukino Festival

The Susukino Festival is one of the biggest festivals which takes place in Sapporo in Hokkaido. Held at the beginning of August, the festival has a history of over 50 years and it is a must see festival if you ever come to Hokkaido! During the festival, over 100 food stands line up along the street, and people parade down the road dancing to traditional music. What makes this festival better is that each year they choose 2 women to dress up in a gorgeous Kimono representing traditional courtesans called Oiran., Aand the way they parade down the street is very elegant. This Oiran Parade is called the Oiran Dochu. The ways how they dress, act, walk are all based on real Oirans back in the old times, so don’t miss it!

 

Details and Access

The festival is held at the beginning of August, from early evening.
It takes place in the city of Susukino, and the closest station is the Susukino station.
For more info, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2707/

4.The Shinagawa Shukuba Festival

the image courtesy of MO

Shinagawa area in Tokyo was a famous post town in the Edo period, and as the festival represents traditions of that era, the area becomes filled with many food stalls, participants, and festivalgoers. During the festival, you get to enjoy many traditional performances and see many traditional costumes such as the Kimono in Oiran style – a traditional Japanese courtesan, and Samurais. If you register before the festival, you even get to join the parade!

 

Details and Access

The festival is held at the end of September each year, and the closest station is the Kitashinagawa station.
For more info, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1345/

 

Festivals Where You Can See Samurai Costumes

These Samurai costumes were worn in wars and battles back in the old days, and they are extremely heavy. Each armor design differs depending on the clan, so try to look for differences if you get a chance to participate in different festivals.

5.The Kishu Kudoyama Sanada Festival

A memorial event for a legendary Japanese samurai who survived the era full of wars, this festival is held every year in Wakayama prefecture. Sanada Yukimura is al legendary samurai who fought the battle of Sekigahara in 1600, which is one of the most famous battles in Japanese history. During the festival, a samurai parade goes around the streets visiting historical sites relating to the Sanada family. The participants dress up as samurais with their armors riding horses. So, you will definitely get a great view of our traditional costumes!

Details and Access

The event is held on the 4th and 5th of May each year.
The closest station is Kuisutamayama station. The festival venue is about 20 mins by foot from there.
For more info, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4721/

6.Echizen Asakura Sengoku Festival

Here is another festival about a famous samurai that survived the severe war era of Sengoku! The Asakura Sengoku Festival is a festival which takes place in Fukui prefecture, as a memorial event of the Asakura family which ruled the whole prefecture. Because it takes place at the natural cultural asset of Fukui, you get to enjoy traditional music entertainments and dancing during the day, and a beautiful view at night as the festival uses 15000 candles instead of electricity. The main event of this festival is the parade of people wearing real traditional samurai armor. Thus, you can enjoy the differences in armors as the armors used in the parade differs depending on the family.

 

Details and Access

The festival takes place each year at the Ichijo-dani Asakura ruins, in late August.
The closest station is Ichijo-dani station, and the site is about 20 min by foot.
For more info, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4529/

7.The Obata Cherry Blossoms Festival

Image courtesy of 「ググっとぐんま写真館」

Everybody loves spring in Japan. It’s the season of cherry blossoms, and during the season, parks become full of people trying to catch a glimpse of the beautiful view. For those who want to enjoy cherry blossoms and Japanese traditional costumes at the same time, I have a perfect festival. This festival takes place in Gunma prefecture. During this festival, you can enjoy many Japanese aspects such as traditional dance performances and drums, open tea ceremonies etc. However, the best thing is that you get to see people in traditional samurai armor which belonged to the Oda clan – one of the most famous clans in our history. They are walking around the streets during the festival. So, try not to get too concentrated on the cherry blossoms and don`t miss the great opportunity to see traditional samurai costumes!

Details and Access

The festival takes place in Kanra Sogo park at the beginning of April each year. The closest station is Joshu Fukushima station.
For more details, check here:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4480/

Festivals Where You Can See Unique Costumes

These unique costumes differ completely depending on areas, as its designs usually originate from tales and stories of that areas. Most of them represent different gods. Besides, people used these unique costumes to scare away the bad spirits.

8.Namahage Festival in Akita

I personally think this festival has one of the most unique costumes! This festival takes place in Akita prefecture. Though it takes place in some certain parts of Akita, it is one of the most famous festivals there. During the festival, male villagers dress up as imaginary demon-like monsters, and go around houses to admonish the kids living there for being lazy or having bad behavior. Most kids burst into tears when this happens. But be careful- this doesn’t mean adults are safe either! The festival`s aim is to flee away from the bad spirits and laziness. The main point is that you can see the special costumes only here, so be sure to visit!

Details and Access:

The event takes place at the Shinzan shrine, and the closest station is Oga station. You can see it every year around February, in the evening. Akita prefecture at this time of the year gets super cold, so be sure to wear warm clothes! For more info, check here:URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3291/

9.The Pantu Festival in Okinawa

© OCVB

Here is another strange but a unique festival held in Okinawa! At this crazy festival, people cover themselves with mud to represent a god called “Pantu” and chase people around to smudge mud on them. The purpose of this festival is to get rid of evil spirits, and you will not be able to see this anywhere else in Japan! The best part about this festival is that you can participate yourself. If you ever see the Pantu during the festival, run away from it! If you ever get caught no matter who you are or what you’re wearing, you get to be covered in mud!

 

Details and Access

The festival takes place at the Miyako island in Okinawa prefecture each year in October. As I mentioned, during this festival you all in mud no matter what. So, keep that in mind when visiting! For more info, check here:URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3535/

10.The Hakata Dontaku Festival

Image courtesy of Fukuoka city

Being one of the most popular festivals in Japan, the Hakata Dontaku Festival has been held for over 800 years in Hakata city, Fukuoka prefecture. With over 2 million visitors every year, this festival is celebrating the joy of life! During the festival, you can enjoy great food, watch and participate in dance performances and lots more! The main event would be the parade, where you get to see many traditional costumes, and it would be a shame to miss the costumes that represent 3 gods: Fukujin, Ebisu, Daikoku. The festival is extremely big, so I am sure you will have a great time!

Details and Access

The festival is held each year on the 3rd and 4th of May, and the parade starts at Gofuku-machi intersection and goes to the Fukuoka city hall. If you want to be at the starting point, Gofukumachi station is the nearest one. For more info, check here:URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1019/

Q/A

Can we try wearing the costumes during the festivals as well?

-It would depend on the festival, but some festivals rent out costumes for the tourists. However, to rent those you must register beforehand, so be sure to check the website before visiting.

 

Are the people participating in the festivals real Samurais and Oirans?

-Unfortunately, in many cases, they are not. However, at some festivals the costumes are real, so have a good look at it!

 

How much would it cost to buy Kimono?

-Real Kimonos cost quite a fortune, even us – Japanese don’t usually have them. If you want to try them on, there are places where you can rent them and take pictures. Other than that, you can try the casual Kimono called Yukata, which is a lot cheaper and many people wear it to festivals in summer.

 

Do you guys wear these costumes daily?

-No, we don’t. Normally we wear casual clothes. However, some costumes, like Yukata, for instance, we wear at special occasions such as summer festivals.

Closing Remarks

In Japan, we have many traditional costumes and they vary depending on the places, purposes, and eras. All costumes are fascinating, and I recommend you to take photos of the participants, as people don’t wear these costumes on the daily basis nowadays. Another way to enjoy our festivals would be to rent a Yukata for yourself. This way you will be able to feel the festival`s atmosphere way better, and it would also be a great experience for you! Many of our festivals come in traditional costumes, so it will be fun just seeing various costumes, and I hope you have a great time during those festivals!

Experience More Fire Festivals in Japan

Do you like that mystical scenes and atmosphere that fire creates in the darkness? I always liked watching the fire as it has a hypnotic effect. Even though there are not so many fire festivals in Japan, some of them are still taking place serving many religious purposes or victory celebrations. If you are looking forward to having some cultural experience in the dark with fire in Japan, the following article will introduce you to 10 Best Fire Festivals in Japan. Please click on the link below!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5190/

An Ultimate Idea Source for Your Tokyo Stay!

Most of the travelers who come to Japan enter the country through Tokyo. Even if it is not the main place of your destination, it would be a great idea to stay in the capital city for a few days. The biggest conglomerate in the world has much to offer to any kind of traveler. Whether you want to go sightseeing, shopping, eating out, or trying something special that you can experience only in Japan, Tokyo has it all. In the following article, you will find 100 things and many ideas on how to spend your time in Tokyo! Please, have a look, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/7726/ 

Don’t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

For all foodies who enjoy Japanese Festivals would be nice to get acquainted with the rich choice offered by Yatai (Japanese festival food stalls). The food presented during Matsuri is pretty different from the one you get at the restaurants in Japan. Besides, there is a certain charm in grabbing some snack from a food stall and diving back into the festival crowd. I am sure that you will discover something new about Japanese festival food from the following article!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5504/

Would You Like to Know How to Enjoy a Japanese Festival Even More?

A lot of people when they get to a Matsuri for the first time feel a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or want to know an alternative way of how you can enjoy these events, the following article will provide you with a set of helpful tips on how to choose a proper festival and activities you should try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Did You Know That There is a Festival Every Day Somewhere in Japan?

Japan is a country of festivals indeed. Matsuri is an essential part of traditional Japanese culture. Thus, every day somewhere in Japan a festival takes place. There are traditional and modern festivals, on the sea and on the ground, in summer and winter. Japanese are hardworking people. However, when you attend at least one festival in Japan, you will understand how locals like to party. The article under the link below will introduce you to a celebration on any day of the year. I am sure you will find an event that suits your interests utmost!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/6572/

Ryusei Yuasa

Hi I’m Ryusei. I’m a university student, and love to play sports, listening to music, and communicating with people.

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