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Numata Matsuri is one of the major festivals of Numata city in Gunma prefecture. About 200,000 citizens and visitors enjoy it every year. If you like Japanese culture and festivals, I think this festival will satisfy your curiosity as it is a typical Japanese matsuri with extraordinary festival floats and portable shrines.
Originally, this festival consisted of two individual events. One is Gion Matsuri which took place in the Edo period, and another one is Numata Matsuri Shokosai (Numata festival of commerce and industry). So, Numata festival has a long history, and the citizens love it. From the very beginning, this festival has been called Ogyon (おぎょん) which also means Gion.
Every year, more than two hundred thousand people enjoy this festival. The main events of this festival are Mikoshi parade – Mikoshitogyo (神輿渡御), a procession of floats – Mando (まんど), Tengu Mikoshi which is Mikoshi parade performed by only women, and a big dance event – Sennin Odori (千人踊り). I would like to tell you about these events.
Mikoshitogyo is a parade of Mikoshi to pray for good luck of the visitors. At the time of Numata festival, the streets in the downtown of Numta city will become a pedestrian area. Thus, the portable shrines will come to the streets from the traditional shrines of the neighborhood. These shrines are related to this festival, so if you have interested in history, please do not miss the parade.
Mando is special festival floats that parade down the streets at this festival. The floats are lavishly decorated, so they look glamorous and graceful. Japanese festival floats are too heavy to be shouldered by a small group, so it needs a lot of people to carry it. This event takes place in the evening so you can enjoy a fantastic Japanese local scenery at night.
Tengu is a Japanese long-nosed goblin with big eyes and bright red skin. Two large masks of Tengu move through the streets of Numata city only on the shoulders of women. These portable shrines weight over 400 kilograms each. In Numata city, there is a sacred mountain of Tengu, so the historical and traditional roots of this event come from it. The reason why only women can carry the Tengu Mikoshi is to wish for the safety of their families. Tengu Mikoshi is one of the most famous events of this festival, so the visitors come from all over the country to see this extraordinary Tengu portable shrine. If you are a lady who is curious about Japanese traditional festivals and culture, you can join the group of carriers as well.
Sennin means one thousand people and Odori means dance in Japanese. So, as you can notice, this event is a big dance event where a lot of dancers perform their moves. At this event, you can enjoy not only watching the dance but also joining it. Basically, anyone can join the dance event. However, I recommend you check the way how to join this event on the official website.
Dates: August 3rd -5th annually
Place: downtown of Numata city
Address: Nishikurauchimachi, Numata-shi, Gunma
Official Website (Japanese only): http://www.city.numata.gunma.jp/kanko/numatamatsuri/
Access: 15 minutes’ walk from JR Numata Station
Numata Matsuri is a festival on a big scale. Thus, you will be able to see many kinds of events. In addition, there are many events that visitors can join. This will definitely make you feel a real Japanese festive atmosphere from them. Please come to Gunma and enjoy a traditional Japanese festival!
If you would like to see this festival and explore Gunma prefecture together with a local guide, please check the banner below!
Image courtesy of 「ググっとぐんま写真館」
If you were ever wondering about Japanese festivals, you probably came across Mikoshi. Mikoshi is an important part of any Japanese religious matsuri, and it is hard to even imagine a traditional festival scene without it. If you would like to know more about Japanese traditional festival culture and find out what Mikoshi really is, the next article is for you. Please click on the link to check it out!
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!
Hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you want to visit this outstanding festival! However, there are a lot of fireworks festivals and events in summer, as fireworks festivals are one of the traditional events in Japan. Put on your Yukata and getas, meet your friends and enjoy a beautiful night sky lit up with thousands of colorful fireworks!
If you are planning to visit Japan to see fireworks, the following article picked the top 11 best fireworks (or Hanabi) festivals for you!