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The Best 13 Lantern Festivals in Japan 2019 – How to Enjoy Lantern Matsuri

Kiki

Writer

There are many lantern festivals in the world, mainly in Asia like Taiwan, Vietnam, and Thailand. Those countries are very popular tourist destinations. But did you know that in Japan there are lantern festivals as well, and not just one, but at many various places? Each Japanese lantern festival features different types of lanterns. Also, they have different concepts and materials which makes each one a unique experience. I will introduce the best 13 Japanese lantern festivals to you in this article and talk about how to enjoy lantern festivals in Japan!


 

What is the Best Time to See Lantern Festivals?

There are many lantern festivals in Japan. So it’s difficult to choose among them. During almost all seasons there are lantern festivals somewhere in Japan. So, depending on the season you are visiting Japan and your other travel plans, I’m sure you will find festivals that will match your interests!

For almost all festivals the best time to visit it is in the evening! Obviously, because the lanterns are lit up then! But some festivals last for the whole day or afternoon. Then, the festivals have special events and food stands! So, you can go there in the afternoon or before the evening to enjoy the view without lights and join the events to see the Japanese culture and enjoy local foods!

Contents

The Best 11 Lantern Festivals in Japan

Lantern Festivals with Bamboo Arrangements

1. Hita Thousand Year’s Light Festival, Oita Prefecture

2. Yamaga Hyakka Hyakusai, Kumamoto Prefecture

Lantern Festivals in the Snow

3. Tsunan Snow Festival, Niigata Prefecture

4. Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival, Yamagata Prefecture

Giant Lantern Festivals

5. Aomori Nebuta Festival, Aomori Prefecture

6. Tanabata Edoro Festival, Akita Prefecture

7. Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival, Aomori Prefecture

Festivals with Multiple Lanterns

8. Dazaifu Lantern Festival, Fukuoka Prefecture

9. Tanabata Chochin Matsuri in Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture

The Lanterns Festivals from Abroad

10. Vietnam Lantern Festival, Toyama Prefecture

11. Nagasaki Lantern Festival, Nagasaki Prefecture

The Best Two Hozuki Lantern Festivals in Japan

What are the Hozuki Lantern Festivals?

12. Hozuki Market in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture

13. Hozuki Market in Asakusa, Tokyo

Closing Remarks

The Best 11 Lantern Festivals in Japan

Lantern Festivals with Bamboo Arrangements

 

1. Hita Thousand Year’s Light Festival, Oita Prefecture

This lantern festival has many bamboo arrangements using Japanese washi paper that local people prepared! The festival takes place in Hita, which is a city in the northeastern part of Oita prefecture. At the festival, there are about 30,000 lanterns set up around the main sightseeing spots. The view of the lanterns is mystical and you won’t get bored even if you keep watching it for many hours! Wouldn’t you like to experience one of the most magical evenings in Japan in Oita?

Details and Access

Dates:

October 8th – 10th, 2019 (estimated). Usually takes place after Hita Tensho Festival on weekend at the beginning of November.

Access:

20 minutes walk from Hita station. Temporary car parking is available but the number of parking lots is limited.
For more information on this festival, please click on the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2069/

2. Yamaga Hyakka Hyakusai, Kumamoto Prefecture

 

At this festival, you can see a few thousands of lanterns covered with bamboo and traditional Japanese paper umbrellas. There is a story about Yamaga town. Once, the town used to be famous for producing Japanese umbrellas. Local citizens wanted to bring back the atmosphere of that era, so that is the main reason why they arranged the festival. You can see the lovely umbrellas and bamboo poles lit up in the dark. In addition, you can join the candle light up process as well! Participating in this event is exciting and you can feel the atmosphere of traditional Japan like you are traveling back in time!

Details and Access

Dates:

February 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd, 2019 from 7 pm to 10 pm. Generally, the event takes place every Friday and Saturday night in February every year.

Access:

Local buses are available from Hakata and Kumamoto area. There are enough car parking lots, some of which are free. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3128/

Lantern Festivals in the Snow

 

3. Tsunan Snow Festival, Niigata Prefecture

The image courtesy of lioapi

 

Did you know that there are also lantern festivals during winter in Japan? Let me introduce to you the festival in Tsunan city. It is one of the areas in Japan with heavy snowfalls. At this festival, you can see how people float lantern balloons in the air calling it ‘‘sky lanterns’’. This festival started to wish for completion of the restoration after the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami aftermath. The view of over 2,000 lanterns flying away into the dark sky and shining with a bright orange color is very dreamy and romantic indeed! I am sure you will see one of the most amazing winter views in Japan in Niigata!

Details and Access

Date:

March 9th, 2019

Access:

Shuttle buses are available from Tsunan town hall and JR Tsunan station. A pre-booking for car parking is necessary
For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4361/

4. Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival, Yamagata Prefecture

 

Another lantern festival in the snow is in Yonezawa village, which is also known for its heavy snowfalls. At the festival, about 300 snow lanterns and 1,000 snow lamps are lit up in the evening. At that time also many snow lanterns are displayed at homes and on the shopping streets. So, the whole city is illuminated by the many snow lanterns and lamps! The combination of snow and lanterns is just so romantic! And if you are feeling hungry there are many food stands selling local food such as Yonezawa ramen, beef skewers, and tama konnyaku. It’s also a good way to keep yourself warm and enjoy these beautiful snow lanterns!

Details and Access

Dates:

The festival takes place on the second weekend of February every year. In 2019 it will be held on Feb 9th and 10th. Snow lanterns pre-lighting will be on Feb 8th (Fri).

Access:

Two free car parking areas are available in the city. The local bus and shuttle buses depart from Yonezawa station.
For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL:https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/800/

Giant Lantern Festivals

 

5. Aomori Nebuta Festival, Aomori Prefecture

 

Another kind of Japanese lantern festival is the type with the giant lanterns. The Nebuta lantern Festival in Aomori is one of the most spectacular festivals in Japan. Also, you can see giant lanterns with traditional Japanese art parading through the town. The lanterns depict historical figures or Kabuki characters in colorful ways and are followed by a group of local performers who, besides dancing also play traditional Japanese music. It’s a unique opportunity to see these very special lanterns. Watching them makes you feel excited and energetic, so, I really recommend you to see it!

Details and Access

Dates:

August 2nd – 7th every year

Access:

5 to 20 minutes walk from Aomori station. Car parking is available near the venue, some of the lots are free.
For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/nebuta-festival-aomori-colorful-nebutas-floating-streets

6. Tanabata Edoro Festival, Akita Prefecture

This giant lantern festival takes place in Yuzawa village in Akita. Completely different from the Nebuta festival. This festival is more about beauty. It is related to the star festival on the 7th of July. During this lantern festival, you will see many giant lanterns on the city’s main shopping street. The lanterns have pictures of beautiful women wearing traditional “Edoro” kimonos from the Edo period. I recommend you enjoy your day shopping and in the evening see these beautiful lanterns!

Details and Access

Dates:

August 5th, 6th, 7th every year

Access:

One minute walking from Yuzawa station. Plenty of parking lots are available. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3875/

7. Goshogawara Tachineputa Festival, Aomori Prefecture

About 15 neputa floats parade near the Goshogawara Station every evening during the festival. The sizes of the 15 neputa lantern floats are large, medium, and small. The largest neputa floats will impress you for sure. They are not just large, I should say they are enormous! The festival has 3 enormous neputa. They weigh 19 tons and are 23m height, which is as tall as a 7-story building. These giant lanterns will become an exceptional scene for you. I am sure you will remember this festival for a long time!

Details and Access

Dates:

August 4th ~ 8th every year

Access:

Get off at JR Goshigawara Station and walk about 5 minutes to the west from the station. Parking lots are available. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/goshogawara-tachineputa-festival-see-the-magnificent-lanterns-in-aomori

Festivals with Multiple Lanterns

 

8. Dazaifu Lantern Festival, Fukuoka Prefecture

 

In Japan, there are also festivals where you can see huge numbers of lanterns at once! At the one in Dazaifu, Fukuoka Prefecture, there are some spots from where you will be able to see thousands of lanterns at once! All the lanterns light up the streets and some of them even form Japanese letters. The areas are glowing beautifully and it’s very enjoyable to walk through the spots surrounded by so many lanterns. I guarantee that you will spend a magical evening and highly recommend you to join the festival at least once!

Details and Access

Dates:

September 23rd, 25th, 2019 (estimated). Dazaifu Lantern festival is usually linked to the Autumn Equinox and Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine Festival on September 25th.

Access:

Five minutes walking from Dazaifu station. A direct bus is available from Hakata bus station and takes about 42 minutes to get to the venue. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/3244/

9. Tanabata Chochin Matsuri in Yamaguchi, Yamaguchi Prefecture

Yamaguchi Tanabata Chochin Matsuri is one of Tanabata summer festivals in Japan. This unique festival can boast thousands of traditional red lanterns which create an unforgettable atmosphere. Chochin (提灯) is a traditional Japanese lantern as you can see on the pictures. The name of the red lanterns is Beni-chochin. To make Chochin, you need to pile thin bamboo rings and put papers or clothes to cover the rings. Traditionally, we put candles inside the chochin and use it at night while walking. When you see so many Chochin at once, the view is mesmerizing indeed.

Details and Access

Dates:

August 6th and 7th every year

Access:

Yamaguchi central shopping street is easy to reach from any part of the town. The major venue is in Nakaichicho area. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/tanabata-chochin-matsuri-feel-ocean-red-lanterns

The Lantern Festivals from Abroad

 

10. Vietnam Lantern Festival in Namerikawa, Toyama Prefecture

Can you imagine there is a lantern festival in Japan which is related to the famous lantern festival in Hoi An city, Vietnam? The festival started in 2010. Besides, Namerikawa city is very similar to Hoi An, which is on the world heritage list and famous for the lantern festival. During the festival, you will see about 300 lanterns with various colors like the ones in Hoi An. There are Vietnamese food stands and you can hire an “Ao Dai” which is a traditional Vietnamese dress. Also, you can buy lanterns. So, it will feel like you are in Vietnam!

Details and Access

Dates:

Early August, Please refer to the official website closer to August for the exact dates.

Access:

20 minutes walk from Namerikawa railway station or 5 minutes walk from Naka-Namerikawa station. Car parking is available. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL (Japanese only): http://vietnam-lantern-festival.jp/

11. Nagasaki Lantern Festival, Nagasaki Prefecture

At the lantern festival in Nagasaki, you can see Chinese lanterns and experience Chinese culture! The festival originally started when people from Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown started celebrating Chinese New Year. Now, the festival is growing bigger year by year. Today more than 1,000,000 people visit this festival and it has become one of the most famous festivals in Japan. Besides, at the festival, you can see about 15,000 lanterns of various colors and sizes that decorate the area! The highlight of the festival is the huge lantern of Eto (Chinese astrological calendar) and it is truly spectacular. There is also a traditional Chinese parade, cultural performances, music performances, and you can make your own lanterns for free! Experience Chinese culture in Japan and visit one of the most famous lantern festivals in Japan at the same time!

Details and Access

Dates:

Held annually for 15 days starting from the Chinese New Year (in February – March). Thus, in 2019 it will take place from 5th February to 19th February

Access:

2 minutes’ walk from Tsukimachi train station. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/1185/

The Best Two Hozuki Lantern Festivals in Japan

 What are the Hozuki Lantern Festivals?

Do you know about ‘‘Hozuki’’? It’s a fruit that hides under the paper lantern like cover. However, today Japanese people do not eat it anymore and people use it as a decorative plant. Actually, Hozuki translates as a lantern in English and there are many festivals that feature Hozuki lanterns in Japan! Hozuki lanterns have a bright orange color like candle lanterns, and many Japanese people visit these festivals to buy a Hozuki pot. This plant is a big part of Japanese culture, so I also want to introduce the best Hozuki lantern festivals to you!

12. Hozuki Market in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture

 

The festival takes place at Tekonareijindo temple. You will notice many pots of Hozuki lanterns at the market. The most impressive thing at this festival is a Buddhist ceremony when people launch paper lanterns that float down the river in the evening to hold a memorial service for the souls of ancestors. You will see more than 1,000 paper lanterns floating in the river and this view will impress you for sure!

Details and Access

Dates:

July 20th, 21st, 2019 (estimated)

Access:

10 minutes walk from Kokubudai station or Ichikawamama station. For more information on this festival click on the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2649/

13. Hozuki Market in Asakusa, Tokyo

Have you ever been to Senso-ji temple in Asakusa, Tokyo? Obviously, It is one of the most popular temples for tourists in Japan. And the market at Sensouji temple happens to be one of the biggest and most famous Hozuki lantern festivals in Japan! More than 100 shops sell Hozuki lanterns. Besides, Many people visit the place wearing colorful summer kimonos called ‘‘yukata’’. You will enjoy the real Japanese summer atmosphere at this festival for sure. If you go to the temple, don’t miss this amazing market in July!

Details and Access

Dates:

9th and 10th of July every year

Access:

Five minutes walking from Asakusa station. For more information on this festival, please check the link below:
URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/2108/

Closing Remarks

What do you think about this article on the lantern festivals in Japan? There are many types of lantern festivals across Japan. Each festival is unique and features various types of lanterns. Besides, the festivals take place in different seasons. One major thing that these festivals have in common is that they will take you to a dreamy, relaxing world and you can calmly see the most mystical views in Japan! If you are in Japan, check the details of the festivals and ask your friends to visit one of them together! Then, I’m sure you will have a really great time and learn new things about Japanese culture!

If you would like to see any of these festivals together with a friendly local guide, please check the banner below!

Choose the Most Spectacular Nebuta Matsuri in Japan!

Image courtesy of  Yuya Saito

Nebuta (or Neputa depending on the area) is a huge traditional Japanese paper lantern that can be of various shapes. This is an essential attribute of numerous Nebuta Festivals in Japan and especially in the Tohoku region. It is hard to imagine a Japanese festivity without these colorful lanterns resembling demons from Japanese mythology, brave Samurai, or beautiful Japanese ladies. In addition, the energetic atmosphere during Nebuta festivals will never make you feel bored! The following article picked up 11 most spectacular and unique Nebuta Matsuri in Japan! Please have a look!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/best-11-nebuta-float-festivals-spectacular-matsuri-japan

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/

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/

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/

Kiki

Travel, hotel and fashion writer living in Germany who loves to hang out with foreigners talking about Japan!!

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