Kagoshima Ohara Festival – Visit the Biggest Festival in South Kyushu!



Image courtesy of Kagoshima City


In this article I would like to introduce you Kagoshima city and Ohara Matsuri in Kagoshima, which is being held from November 2nd to 3rd for two days. This festival is the biggest one in Southern Kyushu Island. Obviously it attracts many people and from this article you will find out how to enjoy it as a local!

Kagoshima city is the capital city of Kagoshima Prefecture, which is in the southwestern part of the Kyushu island. Kagoshima got a nickname – the “Naples of the Eastern world” for its bay location (Aira Caldera), hot climate, and emblematic stratovolcano – Sakurajima. The population of Kagoshima city is over 600,000.Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

Kagoshima Ohara Matsuri

・Kagoshima Ohara Festival is the largest festival in South Kyushu area, where people continue to dance to Ohara Bushi melody at day and at night. Ohara Bushi melody is a Kagoshima`s folk song which has been inherited since Edo Period.

・Ohara Matsuri began in 1949 in commemoration of Kagoshima city municipal organization enforcement 60th anniversary. In 2018 it is going to be 67th festival.Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

Okojyo Daiko or Women Drums

The first day of the festival on November 2nd begins from Okojyo Daiko drum playing. Okojyo (おこじょ) means young ladies in Kagoshima area dialect, and over 300 young ladies beat the drums wearing a “Happi”. Happi (法被, 半被) is a traditional Japanese coat with straight sleeves. It is usually made of indigo or brown cotton and imprinted with a distinctive crest. Usually people wear Happi only at festivals.

It is so great to watch drum beating ladies, and 20,000 people start dancing to the drum beats and the Shamisen – three strings’ instrument, at the same time.Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

So Odori Dancing

・Main event of Ohara Matsuri is, of course, So Odori dancing.
So Odori means that all the people dance together. You can see So Odori dancing in the morning and in the afternoon on the second day of the festival, on November 3rd.
Over 25,000 people continue to dance to the following music:

– Ohara Bushi (小原節) – a representative folk song of Kagoshima.
– Kagoshima Hanya Bushi (鹿児島はんや節)- is a cheerful local beat.
– Shibuya Ondo (渋谷音頭)- pretty moody music.

・Dancing people wear variety of costumes such as Happi, Yukata (Informal cotton Kimono), and leotard. It is very colorful scene.

・People dance and walk around on the Tenmonkan – main street in Kagoshima. It is very lively and active festival indeed!Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

Flower Train

In Kagoshima city street cars (trams) still run in the downtown. One street car is decorated by 1,700 electric lamps and 8,600 artificial flowers and runs with the festival music such as Ohara Bushi and Kagoshima Hanya Bushi folk songs from late October. This colorful street car is called “Hana Densha” or flower train. People in Kagoshima can feel that the festival dates will come soon by watching this “Hana Densha”. The train looks so beautiful with lights and flowers at night. During festival dates this flower train stops and stays at “Tenmonkan Dori Dentei” – a station in front of Tenmonkan street. Please take a look at the flower train when you visit the festival.Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

You Can Enjoy Ohara Matsuri Even in Shibuya, in May

In fact, the Kagoshima Ohara Festival also takes place in Shibuya ward of Tokyo. Two cities, Kagoshima and Shibuya have had deep affinity since old times. In 1998, in order to have deeper cultural exchange between the two cities, the first Ohara Festival in Shibuya was took place with the help of the cooperation of two cities’ citizens. You can enjoy Ohara Matsuri twice a year in Kagoshima and Shibuya, Tokyo. Why don’t you visit both places, and find out the differences?Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

Details and Access

Date & Time:
From November 2nd to November 3rd for two days
Nov. 2nd : 18:50 – 21:00
Nov. 3rd : 10:20 - 17:00

Tram line between Takamibaba, Izuro and Sanbashi-dori (around Tenmonkan)

Sun-sun call Kagoshima
TEL: 099-808-3333Image courtesy of Kagoshima City

Closing Remarks

If you not only watch the festival, but also participate in dancing, then you will be able to enjoy the festival even more. From 15:30 on the first day a dance class for tourists is takes place in Kagoshima government office Main Building lecture hall. After the dance class, how about joining the actual eve dancing parade with confidence that you learned how to dance several hours ago?

This dance is not difficult at all, please try it!

You can watch the festival from everywhere on the Tenmonkan, street between the area from government office, to Takamibaba station. Please visit the festival and join the dance parade!

Do You Like Dances?

How about watching or even taking part in Japanese dance festivals. The festivals are very different and you can see either traditional dances and hear the music that had not changed with time, or visit more contemporary dance events.  Anyway, what`s a festival without dancing? There are so many dance festivals in Japan that sometimes it is hard to choose one. Following article collected Best Dancing Festivals in Japan. Please have a look and choose your favorite!

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 themselves a bit lost. They confuse about what is happening around. If you are new to Japanese Festivals or just 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 definitely try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!



l am living in Nagoya, the third largest city located between Tokyo and Osaka. I am looking forword to introducing you about wonderful festivals in Japan.

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