Nagasaki Hansen Matsuri – an Unforgettable Tall Ship Festival



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If you someone asks you about Nagasaki prefecture, what would you answer? Of course, there are a lot of historical places to visit in Nagasaki. However, as for a festival, Hansen Matsuri (Tall Ship Festival) is the one you will never forget. This event will first come to your mind when it comes to Nagasaki after you visit it.

Hansen Festival is a matsuri that takes place at Nagasaki Port in Nagasaki City.

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Commemorating the Relationship Between Japan and Netherland

There are various festivals in Japan. Most of them are for people to admire ancient traditions while the theme of Nagasaki Hansen Festival is a foreign culture. This makes this festival distinguished from other festivals in Japan. Hansen (a western style ship) used at this festival came from the western culture so you can feel the contrast with other Japanese ships. As you might know, Japan had commercial relations only with the Netherlands during Edo period only through Nagasaki port. This festival started in 2000, commemorating 400-year trade relationship with the Netherlands.

For this reason, only Nagasaki City is eligible to hold Nagasaki Hansen Festival.

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Events on Board

This festival has a lot of events while you are on board. Usually, several sailing vessels join this festival every year. Events you can join take place on each ship. Each ship has different size and shape, so you will find it interesting to join various events on various ships.

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Opening Ceremony Parade

All the ships joining the festival are lining up to enter Nagasaki Port. At the opening parade, you can see a great performance by a man on the ship mast. National flags of all countries in the world are laid out, which indicates the start of a big event.

Sail Drill

During the festival, masts of all the ships are folded because if the wind blows, they start to move. However, during the sail drill, they open its masts so you can take as many photos as you want with the open sails. The ships with their white masts wide open are worth seeing indeed.

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Evening Illumination

At night when it gets dark, the ships are lit up. Though we all know they are just ships, they are really beautiful when illuminated. You can’t avoid thinking that it’s a part of a movie when you see the ship floating with the lights reflected on the water. This event takes place every night except the final day. If you like taking photos, you cannot miss the best timing for the best photos.

Events on Land

Nagasaki Hansen Festival has events on land as well. Around Mizubeno Mori (forest near Water Park), a lot of events take place.

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When ships enter and leave the port, special ceremonies take place. These are important events where they introduce each ship and you can know the story of the crew. This might be the most uplifting event of all the events at this festival. The marching festival is one of the most popular events taking place every year. Especially in 2018, the parade from Disney joined and attracted more audience than usual.


A lot of shops are open near the venue and original goods of this festival are sold. How about some shopping when there are no events or you get tired of the crowd. In the park, a market called “Shinsen Ichi” (fresh food market) is open. You can buy food and fresh seafood for a reasonable price. Tourists really enjoy this market so just feel free to drop by.

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On weekend nights, fireworks are set off. You can hardly ever see fireworks in April in Japan so those who join this festival are encouraged to enjoy watching.

Details and Access

Dates:Every year in late April. (In 2019 on April 18-22)

Access: The main venue is Nagasaki Port along with Nagasaki Seaside Park and Dejima Wharf.

Address: Nagasaki Seaside Park, 22-17 Tokiwamachi, Nagasaki.

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Closing Remarks

What do you think of Nagasaki Hansen Festival? If you have a chance to visit Nagasaki City, please try to feel this unique and colorful city through this matsuri.


If you need any guides to accompany you at this festival or help you to plan your trip to Japan and choose a nice festival, please check the banner below!


I'm Susan. Thank for reading my article! I hope you will enjoy the event of which I am presenting and have fun in Japan!

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