Kibune Shrine Festival – Feel Enthusiasm and Courage of Men of Yamaguchi



Kibune Shrine Festival originated in Shunan area in Yamaguchi prefecture. This area is famous for blowfish fishing where they use long lining. This matsuri started about 300 years ago and has been conducted every year with people carrying a big heavy portable shrine(Mikoshi), who carry it for about 500 meters in water.
Witnessing this festival shares with you the enthusiasm of people who are keeping this marvelous tradition for centuries.
I am sure, you will be overwhelmed not only by sight but also by the sounds you will hear at this festivity!

The Origin of the Festival

Kibune Jinja Natu Matsuri (Kibune Shrine Summer Festival) first started when people went further into the ocean to catch blowfish using lone lining method. People (mostly fishermen) believed that there was a god in the ocean, and strongly believed their success in catching largely depends on the god. They started this festival to pray for the more successful haul and fishermen’ safety for the next year.
Since the beginning, a boat called 伝馬船 (Denma-sen) had been there to lead the festival. Although they didn’t use this boat several years ago, Denma-sen came back to the festival and gives pleasure to people now.

Festival Breakdown

At the beginning of the festival, people pray at Kibune Shrine and carry out the portable shrine.
There is a coastline in front of the shrine where they start going into the water.
First, they purify themselves with the water and get ready for the festival. In the years when they use the Denma-sen boat, overall 19 people get on the boat including dancers and rowers.
After the performance on the boat, the participants carry the portable shrine into the water and walk about 500 meters. As they proceed, other people sing and drink sake on the shore.
Children join the festival too. They carry small mikoshi and travel a shorter distance in the water as well.

Things to Do at the Festival

When you are here, you should definitely get as close as possible to the sea and feel the excitement! Since this festival lasts only for a few hours during the day, your time is limited. You should be there right on time for this festival!
This matsuri is pretty popular. However, it is rather a local festival where most people living there come to enjoy it. This gives you a unique opportunity to catch a lot of heart-warming scenes among local people watching the festival as well.
During the festival season, you might see some promotional posters made by children living in the neighborhood. Walking around the town and getting in touch with the entire neighborhood might be a great adventure for you!

Details and Access

Date: July 22nd, 2018. Basically, this festival takes place every year on Sunday close to June 10th and 11th of the lunar calendar. This means that you can expect it at the middle of July. The dates change every year, so please refer to the official website for the updated information.

Time&Schedule: Starting at 1:30 pm and ending at 4:20 pm

1:30 pm Fireworks
1:40 pm Kids Mikoshi departure
2:40 pm Main Mikoshi departure

Place: Kibune Shrine and the shore around the shrine

Address: 177 Sukumojima, Shūnan-shi, Yamaguchi-ken

Official Website:

30 min car ride from Kushiga-hama station on JRSanyo line

Closing Remarks

There are many festivals all over Japan, and some of them are only focusing on promoting the city and inviting tourists and have lost its original elements.
On the other hand, Kibune Shrine Summer Festival in Yamaguchi is there to entertain the locals in the first place and which means that it had not changed its style since 300 years ago.
Through this festival, you will feel as if you are time-traveling back in time!
If you are in Tokyo and would like to see a similar festival, take a look at the article about Kibune Festival in Manazuru, Kanagawa!

Since it is in the countryside, you might want to get as much information as possible beforehand. Be sure to check the banner below to know more about this festival!

All Images are courtesy of Yamaguchi Prefectural Tourism Federation

More About Yamaguchi  Prefecture

How was reading about this Festival! Did you enjoy it? If you enjoy reading this article and want to know more about Yamaguchi Prefecture, I would like you to read this artcle→

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  Takashi Hososhima

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!



I’m Mai from Nagoya. I am a food tourist so wherever I go, I eat. I speak Japanese, English, and a little Korean!

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