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The 20 Things to Do in Yamaguchi: from Festivals to Exploring Historical Sites



Yamaguchi prefecture is one of the most beautiful prefectures to visit in Japan. This prefecture is blessed with the ocean and mountains. Also, there are many historical spots to explore in here, as it had been the center of the turning point in the Japanese history due to its location. It cannot help attracting many tourists throughout the year because of its magnificent nature and romantic historical sites.

You can come across the beautiful ocean colored in emerald green spreading endlessly or get overwhelmed by natural landscape there. Those majestic natural views give you an impression as if you are in heaven. On the top of these attractions, you can enjoy delicious food from the ocean and mountains there as well. Getting interested to know more about Yamaguchi Prefecture? Here, I would like to introduce the 10 best festivals to join by season and places you should visit in Yamaguchi prefecture. I hope you will consider visiting this beautiful prefecture by the end of this article.



★About Yamaguchi Prefecture

★10 Best Festivals to See in Yamaguchi Prefecture by Season
– Kaikyo Festival (Spring)
– Sentei Festival in Shimonoseki (Spring)
– Hofu Shrine Birthday Festival (Summer)
– Nishiki River Fireworks (Summer)
– Tanabata Chochin Festival (Summer)
– Shimonoseki Bakan Festival (Summer)
– Kurakake Castle Festival (Autumn )
– Inaho Festival (Autumn)
– Oni Festival (Autumn)
– Iwakuni Festival (Autumn)

★Places to Go and Things to Do in Yamaguchi Prefecture
– Tsuno Island, Akiyoshi-do, Omi Island and Jualichi Mountain for Exploring Nature
– Iwakuni Castle, Motonosumi Inari Shrine, Ruriko Temple and Hagi Castel Town for Tracing the History
– Karato Fish Market and Road Station Abu for Local Food Tasting

★Closing Remarks


About Yamaguchi Prefecture

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Yamaguchi prefecture is the westernmost prefecture of Honshu island in Japan. It is one of the 5 prefectures in the Chugoku area. Other prefectures in Chugoku area are Tottori, Shimane, Okayama and Hiroshima prefectures. Yamaguchi prefecture is a junction to Kyusyu area. The ocean surrounds the prefecture from three sides. There is 1500 km long seashore spreading endlessly. The view from the beach is extraordinary. Yamaguchi prefecture has about 1.4 million inhabitants and its population is ranked 27th in Japan. Not only this prefecture offers an amazing opportunity to explore the nature, but also gives you a chance to learn the Japanese history in a different way.

Yamaguchi prefecture had the role of a strategic point for transportation and the gateway to other countries. Because of this role, Yamaguchi prefecture was always in the center of the historical events when Japan faced its turning points. The battle of Dannoura, which represents the end of Taira family, Ouchi culture, and Meiji restoration, which lead to the breakdown of Tokugawa clan, all those big historical events emerged in this prefecture. Like any other prefectures in Japan, Yamaguchi has its own unique culture. You can learn this culture by joining local festivals that I am going to introduce to you later in this article. Why don’t you enjoy nature spots, hot springs, local foods or learning its history by exploring historical heritages while you visit Yamaguchi prefecture? You can check out this YouTube video about Yamagchi prefecture prior to your trip:

10 Festivals to See in Yamaguchi by Season

There are several events you can join in Yamaguchi prefecture. Most of festivals and events in Yamaguchi prefecture are associated with its culture and history. I guarantee that no matter what festival or event you join, you will find something new about Yamaguchi prefecture. Here are 10 best festivals I recommend you to see when you are in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Kaikyo Festival (Spring)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation.

As Yamaguchi prefecture is surrounded by ocean, naturally some festivals and events in this prefecture take place in the ocean. You cannot understand Yamaguchi prefecture without knowing its relation with the

ocean. The Kaikyo Festival is one of those festivals that take place by the ocean. The theme of this festival is the battle of Dannoura. The battle of Dannoura occurred in 1185. In this battle, Taira family, which governed Japan at the end of Heian period got defeated by Minamoto family and opened the new era of Genji. This festival makes you wander into the ancient time of Japan.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation.

Festival in a Nutshell

The Kaikyo Festival is a three-day festival that takes place at the beginning of May every year. This festival is one of the three major festivals in Shimonoseki area together with Hakan Festival and Asia Port Festival. Every year this festival attracts about 40,000. The main event of the festival is the Genpei Funa Battle parade. There are about 80 boats running in the ocean and imitating the battle of Dannoura. You can access the venue within 10 minutes by bus from JR Shimonoseki station. Please check out the following link for more details about this festival, URL:

Sentei Festival (Spring)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation.

Sentei Festival is another festival that has something to do with Taira family. This festival is held to recollect and pray for Emperor Antoku who lost his life in the battle of Dannoura. Emperor Antoku was just 7 years old when the battle of Dannoura occurred. He was just an innocent child who experienced fatal destiny due to his status. This festival takes place at Akama Shrine. This shrine was built to enshrine Emperor Antoku after his death. All performances during this festival are mainly associated with Taira family (Heike). Reading “The Story of Heike” would help you to understand the concept of this festival more.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

This festival is a three-day festival. It is usually on May 2nd to 4th every year. Since each day of the festival has its highlight event, it is better to join the festival from the first day to the end. You can enjoy Shinto ritual and biwa (a four-stringed Japanese lute) performance on the first day.

The main event of this festival comes on the second day. It is Jyoro Dochu or Jyoro parade. You will see some women dressed in traditional courtesan kimono walking down the streets. Many people who come and join this festival look forward to this parade. This parade is historical yet very fabulous. On the last day, there will be a skit on the Genryu Island. This festival is very traditional and gives you an excellent opportunity to learn more about Japanese history at a particular time. For more information about this event, please check the following link, URL:

Hofu Shrine Birthday Festival (Summer)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation.

Hofu is a small town in the south of Yamaguchi prefecture. This small town lights up once a year with its celebration of a more than 1000-year-old religious history and dedication to a god of old times. The official name of this festival is “Summer Tenman-gu Shrine Birthday Festival”. This cozy and homey festival in this little town will definitely make your heart melt.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

The purpose of this festival is to celebrate the birth of the god – “Sugawara no Michizane”. The celebration goes on for three days at the beginning of August every year. On the final day, you will see 4000 fireworks blowing in the dark sky along with music and laser displays. Over 30,000 people gather in this small town for this fireworks display. There are various competitions to take part in, performances to see, and food stalls with local foods and goods to try during this three-day festival. People in Hofu are really looking forward to this once a year event and commit to entertaining people coming from Japan and abroad. You can feel the unity and lively atmosphere while you are at this festival. You can check more information about this festival by clicking on the following link, URL:

Nishiki River Fireworks (Summer)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Nishiki river fireworks are one of the three most significant fireworks events which take place by the river in Japan. You can see this big fireworks display on Saturday of the first week in August every year in Iwakuni city. You can join mini-events before the fireworks to feel the local atmosphere. Yes, fireworks displays are common summer events in Japan. Watching fireworks by the Kintaikyo – Japan’s famous Bridge is somewhat majestic and romantic.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

Nishiki River Fireworks start in the evening around 8:00 p.m. close to Kintai Bridge. However, you can join Suion Festival prior to the fireworks. You can enjoy treasure hunting game, Yosakoi Dance Parade (Japanese traditional dance), a performance of Iwakuni drums, and music concert follows as well. At the fireworks venue, there will be tons of food booths at Shimogawara. You can try traditional Japanese festival food like yakisoba, deep fried chicken, or apple candies. Get your stomach full before the main event! You can check how to access the venue or what else you can do during this festival at by clicking on the following link, URL:

Tanabata Chochin Festival (Summer)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

The first Tanabata Chochin Festival started about 500 years ago in the Muromachi Period. This is how the story goes: a long time ago, there was a guy living in a small town. He came up with the idea of lighting up the chochin (lantern) for honoring his ancestors. And other people in his town saw him doing it and found it beautiful. Then, this one action conducted by one anonymous guy turned out to be a ritual for the town. How interesting is that? One guy’s action made a historical tradition. It would be fun to join this festival knowing there is such a story behind, right?

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

The special feature of this festival is a tunnel illuminated with more than 10 thousands of Chochin. This is totally unique, and you can only see such a thing at this festival. Those 10 thousand of Chochin look like shining red flowers glowing in the dark. I am sure you will find the view pretty magical. During the daytime, you can also enjoy watching Chochin hanging on Yamagasa and portable floats. Local dance and music are performed during this two-day festival. Traditional Japanese festival foods are offered at the venue, so don’t miss those while you are at the event. If you want to know more about this show, please check out the following link, URL:

Shimonoseki Bakan Festival (Summer)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Most of the festivals in Yamaguchi prefecture are related to the history of Taira and Minamoto clans. Those two families made a huge impact on Japanese history from the end of the Heian and Kamakura era. The concept of Shimonoseki Bakan Festival also originates from the story of Heike. The highlight of this festival – Heike dance is based on the battle of Dannoura. 40,000 people take part in the city dance with upbeat music and the quick beat of drums. The way people dance is really crazy and you can notice how the city warms up during this festivity.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

This festival started in 1979. The chamber of the city proposed to have this festival as the plan for the city revitalization. Now, this festival has become the major event of the prefecture and attracts over 400,000 people from around the world. The other highlight of this festival is the parade where people imitate Korean Emissary. You can see how Korean emissaries dress in the past and interact with local people back then through this parade. You can check more information about this festival from the following article, URL:

Kurakake Castle Festival (Summer)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

The Kurakake Castle Festival takes place in Iwakuni city. The main attraction of this festival is the reenactment of the battle between two powerful “Bushos” – Japanese military commanders during the Sengoku period. At this festival, about 40 people dressed in a medieval armor walk through the town with arrows and spears. Those people look real Busho and it is a good opportunity to take pictures of them. The Kurakake Castle Festival also gives you a sense of the beauty and high intensity of Japanese culture.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

The name of this festival originates from Kurakake castle. Kurakake castle is not a famous castle, and now you can only see the remains of it as it was destroyed in the Kamakura era. This castle is associated with Ouchi family, which flourished Ouchi culture in Yamaguchi prefecture. The festival is a very community-oriented one. You can catch a glimpse of the history during the Muromachi period through this festival. For more information, please check the following link, URL:

Inaho Festival (Autumn)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Inaho festival takes place in a small city called Kudamatsu in Yamaguchi prefecture. This city is blessed with nature and aims to be a town full of flowers and greens. Kudamatsu city is always in the best 20 to 30 cities to live in Japan. Inaho festival is a small but traditional event in this cozy town. If you want to feel the local vibes in Japan, this festival is the one for you to go.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

The concept of Inaho Festival is praying for fertility, bumper crops, and business prosperity. This festival takes place on November 3rd every year. It starts with people praying in the local shrine – Hanaoka Fukutoku Inarisha and at Horyuji temple. What you can see at this festival is a beautifully decorated portable shrine and floats. The highlight of the festival is “Kitsune no Yomeiri” (the wedding ceremony of foxes) parade. People wear fox masks and perform a wedding parade. For more information about this festival, please click on the following link, URL:

Oni Festival (Autumn)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

The Japanese word “Oni” means a demon or an ogre, which often appears in old Japanese fairy tales.  What a weird festival, right? It is not as fun as Halloween, but solemn in a way. Why don’t you peek into this festival to understand more about Japanese evils?

Festival in a Nutshell

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

This festival is an annual autumn event that takes place at the beginning of October at Kasuga Shrine. You will see festival participants, mainly boys, in traditional Japanese festival clothes with the “Oni” mask circling the shrine and performing rhythmical music on the Japanese drums during this festival. Although those boys are dumb serious about their performance, it does not look scary at all. They put a smile on your face instead. Please join this festival and feel the warmth of the small town. For more details about this festival, please click on the following link, URL:

Iwakuni Festival (Autumn)

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Iwakuni festival is a two-day event, which takes place in the middle of October every year at Chuo Street around Iwakuni station. You can enjoy a big float in the shape of the white snake parading through the street and traditional Iwakuni dance – Iwakuni Yoitoko dance. The main performance takes place on the second day of the festival. You can either join this festival on the first day or second day depending on your schedule.

Image courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

Festival in a Nutshell

The concept of this festival is “Kinsai, Minsai and Yarinsai”, meaning the festival “attracts, involves and makes people participate” in the process of the celebration. This festival is not only for locals but for people who are coming from anywhere else to join the procession. At this festival, you can see a band performance, traditional Iwakuni dance, and white snake floats parading with dancers. Also, you can try traditional Japanese festival food during this festival. Why don’t you join “Kinsai, Minsai and Yarinasai” at this festival? If you want to know more about this festival, please click on the following link, URL:

Places to Go and Things toDo in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Other than the festivals in this article, there are so many places you can go and do something fun in Yamaguchi prefecture. As I mentioned, this prefecture is blessed with the ocean and mountains. Also, it had been the turning point of tapanese history due to its location. Visiting Yamaguchi prefecture gives you a chance to breathe and take it easy beneath nature or learn the Japanese history there. Yamaguchi prefecture offers you good food from the ocean and mountains. Those foods will smack your lips. In the following section, I picked 10 best places where you should go to Yamaguchi prefecture. Please take a look and see if you can find some places suitable for your next trip to Yamaguchi!

Exploring Nature in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Tsuno Island

This island is in the Japanese Sea. It gives an impression of the island which lays somewhere in the tropical countries. You will see the beautiful emerald green ocean surrounding this island. It is also famous for the beauty of the ocean and the white sand beach. You can access this island through Tsunoshima Bridge by car or take a bus from Kottoi station. You can enjoy swimming, camping or strolling on the beach in Tsuno island. There is a restaurant named Shioikazeno Sato. Try gorgeous seafood at this restaurant. You can check more about Tsunoshima at the official website, URL: (in Japanese)


Akiyoshi-do is 100 meters below the Akiyoshidai Quashi National Park. It is one of the Japan’s largest limestone caves. After passing cedar grove, you will see the entrance to this magnificent cave. The total length of this cave is over 10.7 km, and this is the 2nd longest cave in Japan. You can see a part of this cave by waking 1 km of the course inside. The temperature in the cave is around 17 degrees. You’d better bring a long sleeve shirt with you if you want to visit this place. The view inside the cave is pretty amazing. It makes you appreciate to the greatness of nature. For more information about this beautiful cave, you can check their website, URL:

Omi Island

Omi Island is in the northeast of Yamaguchi prefecture. This is a small island which is only 40 km². There are several natural cave tunnels, cliffs and stone pillars around the island. The other name of this island is “The Alps in the ocean” because of its natural surroundings. In the northern part of this Island, there is a path named a memorial road. You can enjoy the view of the cliffs and pillars in the ocean while you hiking the path. The famous spot on this path is Hekitodai. The path gives you an excellent opportunity to capture all those famous caves and pillars that look like elephant nose, costume parade and 16 arahants. You can take gorgeous pictures from the various spots. For more information about this island, please visit the official website, URL:

Jakuchi Mountain

Jakuchi Mountain is the tallest mountain in Yamaguchi prefecture. If you are a hiking buff and love the challenge, this mountain is definitely for you to go. This mountain used to be open only for professional Mt. climbers and hunters due to its steepness. In 1963, the hiking trail was set up for regular hikers and now Jakuchi Mountain is one of the famous hiking spots in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The best season to visit this mountain is in the early spring and the middle autumn. You can enjoy hiking in the tender green in spring or in red leaves in autumn. There are falls and water spots along the hiking trail. You can bath in a hot spring after hiking there as well. Please get more information about this mountain at the official website, URL:

Tracing History in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Yamaguchi prefecture had always been the emerging place for opening new eras in Japan. The battle of Dannoura, which determined the end of Heian era, Ouchi culture and Meiji restoration, which ended over 260 years of Tokugawa Shogunate, all those big historical events happened in here. If you want to know more about Japanese history, it is necessary to understand the history of Yamaguchi prefecture as well. Here come some historical spots that will help you to learn more about the Yamaguchi prefecture and Japan.

Iwakuni Castle

Iwakuni castle was built in 1608 by Hiroie Kikkawa, who was the lord of Iwakuni city. The castle located on the top of Mt. Shiroyama which is 200 meters high. It was once destroyed after 8 years since the castle construction. The present castle was built in 1962. In this castle, you can see the old building structures and armors exhibited in the castle tower. From there, you can see the Seto Inland Sea and the whole city spreading under the castle. You can imagine how the lord Kikkawa felt looking down this view back in old times. There is a famous bridge – Kintai Bridge nearby the castle. It would be a good idea to get yourself down to the bridge. Kintai bridge is also one of the most famous historical spots in Yamaguchi prefecture. For more information, please visit the official website, URL:

Motonosumi Inari Shrine

Motonosumi Inari Shrine is in Nagato City in Yamaguchi prefecture. The story of how this shrine was made is bizarre and funny. This shrine was built in 1955 because one guy met a white fox in his dream. This white fox came in this dream and forced him to build the shrine, saying “You have been blessed thanks to me. Why don’t you do something in return for that?” He was a fisherman and indeed, he had been successful before he had this dream. This is the reason why we can see Motonosumi Inari shrine now. Funny right?

The main feature of this shrine is 123 of Trii (represent the gateway to the holy place) lining up about 100 meters. This is a great photo spot. So, do not forget to bring the camera with you when you go there. You can check more information about this place on the official website, URL:

Rurikou Temple

Ruiriko Temple is in the Yamaguchi City. What you must see in this temple is the five-storied pagoda originally built in 1399. This pagoda is a symbol of Ouchi culture, which prospered in the Muromachi Period. Ouchi culture is an original culture that flourished only in Yamaguchi prefecture. During this period, Yamaguchi prefecture was called the Kyoto of the west. This pagoda is 10th oldest one existing in Japan. Also, it is famous for a national treasure. In spring, the temple turns pink thanks to the cherry blossoms. Many tourists visit this beautiful historical spot and appreciate Ouchi culture. If you want to know more about Ouchi culture, it would be a good idea to drop by this temple. You can check more about this temple on its official website, URL: (in Japanese)

Castle Town in Hagi City

Hagi City is in the northern part of Yamaguchi prefecture. This city grew leading spirits of the Meiji restoration. Choshu domain, that was one of the central forces in this restoration, based in the Hagi city. You can walk around the city and see existing historical buildings and spots from the end of the Edo period. In this area, you can smell the roman of Meiji restoration by strolling through the streets. There are several cafes and shops in this area. You can even rent a Kimono in some shops. For more information, please check the official website, URL: (in Japanese)

Try Delicious Local Food of Yamaguchi Prefecture

Yamaguchi prefecture is also famous for the prefecture that offers great food. Because of its location, this prefecture is blessed with fresh food from the ocean and from the mountains. One of the representative foods from Yamaguchi prefecture is blowfish (Fugu) and sea urchin. That fresh seafood force you to say “wow” right after you bring it to your mouth. If you are not used to eating raw seafood, you can try cooked Fugu. Those who are not good with fish, no worries, Yamaguchi prefecture also produces delicious chicken and beef. You can try Chosyu Kasiwa or Mukaku wagyu instead of seafood. Here are places you can try those gorgeous local dishes in Yamaguchi prefecture.

Karato Fish Market

Karato fish market is in Shimonoseki City. This market is famous for selling fresh blowfish. If you are good at cooking, you can buy various fresh fishes caught on the same day. Also, there is a sushi battle taking place every weekend at this market. You can do a tasting to find out which sushi is your favorite one. There is a Kamonwarf next to the market. You can enjoy the shopping process of food made of fish or other local delicacies for souvenirs. The official website of Karato fish market is here,

Road Station Abu

Road Station Abu is in the Abu city in Yamaguchi prefecture. There are markets, hot springs, swimming pools and cafes in this facility. If you have an international driver’s license, you can drop by this road station and take a bit of rest here. You can try Mukaku wagyu (beef), which is only produced in Yamaguchi prefecture and served at “Dining café 846” restaurant in the facility. Mukaku wagyu is quite valuable as the only a small amount of this product goes to the market. For more information about this facility, please check the official website, URL: (in Japanese)

Closing Remarks

Thank you for reading this article to the end. I hope this article made you feel like visiting the Yamaguchi prefecture. It is difficult to mention every single event and great spot to visit in Yamaguchi in one article. As you can guess this prefecture offers great nature, including beautiful seashores and mountains to explore. And there are many historical spots you can visit. Do not forget to taste the local food there either. You will find those foods really delicious. Going to the big city like Tokyo and Osaka would be fun but visiting relatively small prefecture like Yamaguchi would introduce more meaning to your trip.

Your trip will be more rewarding if you could connect with local people prior to the journey. Try Huber and find locals who can help you to sketch you travel plans, will suggest you the best places to visit according to your wishes and will bring you to local festivals! For more information, please click on the banner below.

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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!


Don`t Stay Hungry at the Festival!

Image courtesy of Tomomarusan

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!



Yogi and Snowboarder. Love to explore nature and to meet new people. Currently, residing in the Kansai area in Japan.

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