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The most famous winter feature of Nagasaki is the lantern festival. Nagasaki lantern festival is the most beautiful and exotic event in Kyushu area. To see these lantern lights, around 1,000,000 people from Japan and abroad visit Nagasaki Prefecture. The festival is held annually for 15 days starting from the Chinese New Year. If you like colorful lanterns and a charming atmosphere that the lights create, this article will tell you more about this exquisite festival and give you some hints on how to enjoy it.
At Nagasaki lantern festival over 10,000 lanterns are lightened up, and it creates a dreamlike atmosphere. The lantern festival in Nagasaki is the biggest lantern matsuri in Japan. A lot of my friends have been to this festival, and everybody says they would love to come back again every year. Unlike the other festivals in Japan, this lantern festival lasts for almost two weeks during the Chinese New Year. So, you can quickly arrange your schedule to go and see it.
Nagasaki Shinchi Chinatown residents started this festival as a celebration of Chinese New Year. In 1994 the scale of the event became more significant, and the Nagasaki Lantern Festival became the major event of the city. Chinatown and major streets of Nagasaki sink in the mysterious lights of over 15,000 lanterns.
Historically being an international hub, Nagasaki city has one of the three biggest Chinatowns in Japan. Other big Chinatowns are in Yokohama and Kobe. Thus, the city has a strong Chinese influence on its trading history and culture.
You can see lanterns everywhere at the festival venues. However, the most amazing one is always the lantern of twelve zodiac signs. In the Chinese Zodiac, there are 12 animals believed as the Gods. 2018 is the year of the dog. The gorgeous dog lantern was the center of the festival in 2018. Thus, you can expect an extraordinary lantern of a pig in 2019. The biggest Chinese zodiac lantern in this ten years was over 10 meters tall. You can also see many lanterns of Chinese Gods, the dragons, and things which are believed to bring people good luck. The lanterns are made by Chinese artisans or brought from China every year.
If you want to take beautiful pictures, among all of the lanterns, I recommend you to go see the ones by the river. The lantern lights reflected on the river are amazingly beautiful. At the same time, there is a place where you can create your lanterns for free! You can try making one and bring it back to your home as a souvenir.
In the center of the lantern area, there is a small shrine. In the shrine, you can see the special food such as pork heads, and fruits, offered by people belonging to that shrine which is unique to Japan.
Nagasaki is known as an international prefecture. Around 450 years ago, the people from Europe came to Nagasaki and started foreign trading with Japan. Even today, because of those historical reasons, Nagasaki has a multicultural population, buildings, religions and so on. Nagasaki specialty, called “Shippou”, is also created with the influence of the international background. “Shippou” is a fusion cuisine style with the mixture of Japanese, Chinese, and Europe influence.
This cuisine usually is expensive, but if you want to try it at a lower price, you should try “Chanpon” ramen. During the lantern festival, you can try it at many food stalls. I like the long spring rolls. It is only sold at the festival and tastes fantastic. You may see stalls on the regular days in Nagasaki, but you will see way more during the festival.
During the lantern festival, you can enjoy many Chinese events, for example, Chinese dance, music, and marching. Especially Emperor Parade is very popular. The emperor is carried by his people (imaginary slaves probably) and walk around the festival area. (You can imagine Aladdin. When he visits the princess, he did a similar thing.)
Also, Chinese Lion Dance is presented as well. We also have the lion dance in Japan but the Chinese one is more colorful, and its moves are fast. When the lion tries to bite your head, do not escape from it. It brings you good luck!
Also, you can see Mazu Procession, Chinese Circus, Dragon Dance, Chinese Acrobatics, Erhu (performances by residents of the Erhu and Kokyu with traditional Chinese instruments), and much more.
Dates: Held annually for 15 days starting from the Chinese New Year (in February – March). Thus, in 2019 it will take place from 5th February to 19th February
Place: There are two main event venues – Minato Park and Chuo Park. However, there are plenty of smaller sites spreading all over central Nagasaki. Other venues include Shinchi Chinatown, Tojin Yashiki, Kofukuji, Kaji-Ichi, Haman-machi Arcade, Koushi-byou (Confucian Shrine).
Opening Ceremony: February 5th, 5:30 pm – 6 pm
Opening Ceremony and Lantern Illumination at Minato Park (fireworks too). Chuo Park – light up only.
Emperor’s Parade: February 9th and 16th, 2 pm – 4:30 pm.
The parade will start at Chuo Park and proceed to Minato Park.
Maso Procession: February 10th and 17th, 1 pm – 4 pm
Official Website: https://travel.at-nagasaki.jp/en/what-to-see/62/
Address: Main Venue: Nagasaki Chinatown, Minato Park, 1500-1 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki City.
Nagasaki is always an exciting place because of its long history and diverse culture. In fact, the lantern festival is the best term to visit. You can feel the local culture not only through the words but through the people there and the wonderful atmosphere of this matsuri. Don`t miss an opportunity to discover Japan from a different perspective at this impressive event. Here Japanese and Chinese cultures create a blend of something wonderful and exquisite!
I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this great festival. Lantern festivals in Japan are very popular, and you can see it in any season. If you would like to know more about other lantern festivals in Japan, enjoy its mystical atmosphere, and admire a glowing night in Japan, please click on the link below and you will find an article on the best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!
Nagasaki Prefecture, the land where Japanese traditional culture coexists and harmonizes with different cultures. You might have not heard about Nagasaki much compared to Kyoto and Tokyo, but Nagasaki has its own charm and offers numerous places to visit, with a rich history behind them. The following article assembled the best festivals and activities to enjoy in Nagasaki Prefecture, which will make your trip to Japan even more rewarding!
Image courtesy of Yuya Saito
Nebuta (or Neputa depending on the area) is a huge traditional Japanese paper lantern that can be of various shapes. This is an essential attribute of numerous Nebuta Festivals in Japan and especially in the Tohoku region. It is hard to imagine a Japanese festivity without these colorful lanterns resembling demons from Japanese mythology, brave Samurai, or beautiful Japanese ladies. In addition, the energetic atmosphere during Nebuta festivals will never make you feel bored! The following article picked up 11 most spectacular and unique Nebuta Matsuri in Japan! Please have a look!
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 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!
Image courtesy of Tomomarusan
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