Nagasaki Kunchi Festival – See a Fusion of Different Cultures at One Place



Image courtesy of ©NPTA


In this article I would like to introduce you Nagasaki city and Nagasaki Kunchi Festival. Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is one of the biggest annual event in he city, so you should`t miss an opportunity to see this extraordinary event. You will find out how various foreign cultures were mixing at this event for centuries and what interesting points you can observe at this festival.

Nagasaki city is the capital and the largest city of Nagasaki-ken Prefecture, with over 400,000 population. It is also a harbor city which developed for a long time as a doorway to the foreign countries.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Dejima island, in Nagasaki was the only port in terms of international trade in Edo Period, when government had the policy of isolation. So, Nagasaki has been influenced by European countries and Christianity, and the city scape with lots of slopes and exotic atmosphere is different from any other citiy in Japan.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Nagasaki Kunchi Festival

・Nagasaki Kunchi is the festival of Suwa Shrine, taking place annually in Nagasaki from October 7th to Ocotber 9th for three days. This festival has been cerebrated for about 400 years and incorporates different aspects of Chinese and Dutch cultures, which have played important roles in the city’s history.

・The festival’s name is said to come from Ku-nichi (9th day), the ninth day of the ninth month of lunar calendar.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

・The festival highlights are the dance and show performances of groups representing Nagasaki’s various districts. Each district (Odori-cho) participates only once every seven years, so this festival remains fresh even for people who visit every year.

・About five to seven groups perform every year. Some group presents Japanese traditional dances, another group presents dragon dance that came from China, the next group presents a large float, with a shape of a ship.
While some performances are calm and peaceful, others get wild and heroic.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Characteristics of the Festival

One of the major characteristics different from other festivals in Japan is that Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is an intercultural festival. You can see unique and dynamic dances and performances influenced by foreign cultures such as Portugal, Netherlands, China, and Vietnam.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Please don`t miss the following performances:

・Jya-Odori or dragon’s dance
・Kujira-no-Shiofuki or spouting whale parade
・Oranda Manzai – a Dancing parade in old Dutch costumes
・Goshuin-sen – a ship style portable shrine

Some of them only show up once in seven years. So, you`d better confirm the information before coming to watch the festival. However, you can watch the following Japanese traditional dance and parades influenced by Kyoto and Sakai festivals every year:

・Kasaboko – combined umbrella and halberd carried on floats
・Dashi – parade floats
・Taikosan – parade floats with Japanese drumsImage courtesy of ©NPTA

About Reserved Seats

Performances take place at four main places with paid seating and/or standing areas in the morning and evening of October 7th and in the morning of October 8th and 9th.

The four main stages are:

・Suwa Shrine
・Yasaka Shrine
・Kokaido – public hallImage courtesy of ©NPTA

It might be difficult for foreign tourists to purchase tickets for paid seats. Tickets are sold out quickly several weeks before the events through sales channels that require Japanese language skills. However, at some of the main places, it is possible to take a look at performances without a ticket, but these areas tend to get very crowded, and people arrive early to capture the best spots.

You can see the performances at few other locations across the city, for which no tickets are available and people can watch without charge. Among them is the Chuo Koen Park, where performances are on October 8th, and the Plaza of Nagasaki Station, where most groups appear on some of the festival days. Get there in advance to reserve a good spot. At the station plaza, you can see the performances from the ground level or from a small hill.Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Details and Access

October 7 - October 9

Suwa Jinjya (諏訪神社)
18-15, Nishiyama-cho, Nagasaki-shi
TEL 095-821-8596
Yumesaito, 10-4, Motofunamachi, Nagasaki-shi
TEL 095-823-9073
Yasaka Jinjya (八坂神社)
8-53, Kajiya-machi, Nagasaki-shi
TEL 095-822-6750
Chuo Koen (中央公園)
5-100, Nigiwaicho, Nagasaki-shi
TEL 095-822-0111Image courtesy of ©NPTA

Closing Remarks

One of the points of Nagasaki Kunchi Festival that differs it from other festivals in Japan is sound. The sound of Dora – a kind of Chinese percussion instrument, and long wrapper will make you feel like you are not in Japan. I can say that Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is a fusion festival where Japanese, Chinese and European cultures meet. Please come to Nagasaki Kunchi Festival and feel its exotic atmosphere!

Would You Like to See Hikiyama Floats at Karatsu Kunchi Festival?

I hope you enjoyed reading this article and would like to visit this festival. If you are in Saga Prefecture you would probably interested in Japanese festival floats. Hikiyama floats are used widely during Japanese festivals. They are different depending on the region. If you look forward to seeing one of the most old, colorful and traditional floats, you should visit Karatsu Kinchi Festival in Saga prefecture in November. This popular festival gathers more than 500000 people yearly and boasts its gorgeously decorated floats along with an energetic atmosphere of the festival. For more information on Karatsu Kunchi Festival click on the link below:


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.

Written on

Other Events You May Like