Hari Kuyo at Horin-ji – an Ancient Needle Memorial Service in Kyoto
Osaka, Kyoto and Kansai
Visiting Osaka during winter could be a bit chilly. However, winter is actually the best season to visit this lively, unique, and energetic prefecture. In fact, winter is the best time to enjoy traditional Japanese end and the beginning of the New Year. This would be a real Japanese experience for you.
As you know, Osaka is one of the most populated prefectures after Tokyo and Kanagawa prefecture in Japan. Osaka has a unique character compared to the other parts of Japan. People coming from abroad usually comment about Osaka saying that it is very friendly and welcoming. People, there are very open-minded and easy going. Those facts will warm your heart up in the cold weather while you are in Osaka. Please come and visit Osaka if you look for some friendly and fun experience. In this article, I’m going to introduce you the most popular and exciting events to join in each month of this winter in Osaka.
It gets 8 degrees maximum every year in Osaka during December. Yet, December is not the coldest month compared to January and February. A light but warm long sleeve jacket would save you from the coldness while you join outdoor festivals and events in this month. Here are some events and festivals that will satisfy your curiosity and stomach in December. Let’s take a closer look at them!
Winter is the best season to taste Ramen. Ramen is Japanese traditional noodle soup, which is usually made of pork-based broth. At the typical Ramen restaurant, you are encouraged to have it with dumplings (Gyoza). During this festival, there is a dumpling festival that goes on at the same time. You can enjoy Ramen and Gyoza at the same time! Feel free to taste Ramen from 40 famous Ramen restaurants at the same venue. The various types of meaty taste Ramen and dumplings will warm your body up and stuff your stomach. Here is the official page of this event (Only in Japanese): http://2018.ramen-expo.com/
Image courtesy of 楓景斎 泰 山
Osaka Castle is one of the most famous tourist spots in Osaka. This castle shows different faces throughout the year. No wonder, around 3,000,000 people have visited the castle in 2018 already. In December, the castle will present the illumination at Nishinomaru garden. The theme will be “at the end of the Edo period, Meiji Restoration and civilization.” Over 3,000,000 lighting balls surrounding the pond will represent the story of those turbulent times. The view you will see will be pretty magnificent! The castle gets lightened up as well. The collaboration of the castle and illumination creates a wonderland atmosphere. If you are not a Japanese resident, you will get a discount at the entrance. Here is the official website for the event: https://www.illuminagegroup.com/osaka2018-2019/ (Only in Japanese)
This festival takes place in the Shiba building, one of the historical buildings in Osaka. The building has 4 floors, including the roof terrace. You can enjoy examining the structure of the building while you join this festival. Also, there will be an art and handmade flea market waiting for you at the site. If you like little arty and warm crafts, you will definitely enjoy this festival. There is also a mini café at the terrace. Check out the town scenery while you take a break over a cup of tea or coffee. You can check more information about this festival at the official website: http://www.root36.net/artmatec/ (Only in Japanese)
Nakanoshima area lies along the river. There are some historical buildings to check around as well. Some people say that the area looks like Europe. The Nakanoshima Water Fantasia event started 7 years ago. The artificial fountain jets get 10 meters high and the illumination with music adorn the Hotarumachi Port in Nakanoshima Area. The show and illumination are quite a thing. If you do not mind standing in the cold weather, it is worth checking while you are in Osaka in December. For more information about this festival, please click on the following link: https://sp.jorudan.co.jp/illumi/spot_105454.html (Only in Japanese)
The Harvest Hill is in Sakai City in Osaka. The place usually offers various workshops and events related to food or nature. Visiting there in the spring would be nice as well. But in the winter, around Christmas time, the Harvest Hill turns into a magical carpet like a place with over 3,000 candles. The scenery with those candles glowing in the dark is super fantastic. There are many restaurants and craft workshops you can enjoy before this magical candle night. It would be good to be there before the event and immerse yourself in nature like experience. Here is the link to the official website: https://farm.or.jp/ *For the event, you may check the website of Osaka City: https://osaka-info.jp/page/events-harvest-hill-candle-night (Only in Japanese)
If you are a regular runner at home, here is the event that may intrigue you. Yodogawa River runs through Osaka. This is a 10 km long light marathon event which accepts anyone over 16 years old to participate. You can enjoy the sight of a river while you run. The funny thing about this marathon event is that you will get chocolate bars at the water point instead of a bottle of water. You can sign up for this event through the website here: http://runningintokyo.com/main/authorization/signUp?target=http%3A%2F%2Frunningintokyo.com%2Fevents The registration is until the 3rd of December. Running with other local people at this event would be fun. The official website: http://runningintokyo.com/events/3-by ( Only in Japanese)
January in Osaka can be very cold. But the good thing about January is that we do not have much rain. The sky and the air tend to be very clear most of the time. It barely snows as well. On the top of it, there are many traditional and local festivals related to the New Year events during this season. Please enjoy Japanese traditions at famous temples and shrines to experience a real Japanese culture! In this section, I will mostly introduce festivals or events for celebrating the New Year.
Osaka Tenmangu Shrine is in Kita Ward in Osaka, the center of Osaka prefecture. This shrine is famous for worshipping Michizane Fujiwara who represents the god of study. This shrine is loved and respected by people in the community since ancient times. From the last day of December to the beginning of the New Year, many local people gather at this shrine and pray for the good luck in the upcoming year. Each Year about 30,000 people joins this New Year’s Festival. There will be festival food vendors lining up on the main street of the shrine during this festival. Why don’t you join this festival and make a wish with lovely local people? Here is the webpage of the festival: https://osaka-info.jp/page/osakatemmangu-shogatsu (Only in Japanese)
In Japan, there are seven lucky Gods called “Chichi Fukujin”. Ebisu San is one of this seven lucky Gods who brings luck to your business. Historically, Osaka developed as a commercial city. This Imamiya Ebisu Shrine worships Ebisu San. This festival is a 3-days event when people pray for good luck in their business. Every year over 1,000,000 people joins this festival within three days. The shrine gets lively and energetic during the festival term. There will be traditional performances, food vendors, and parades to entertain all the visitors. If you want to see and feel real Osaka, there is no reason for you to miss this hot winter festival. You can look more into this festival at https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/toka-ebisu-festival-osaka
This festival usually takes place on 14th or January, the third Sunday of the month. The other name of this festival is “Tug of war ritual.” It originates from and honors to the story of the Japanese Shinto God – Susanoo Mikoto. There will be a unique car that represents the dragon with eight heads defeated by Susanoo Mikoto at the festival. It is made of a giant rope and looks kind of funny. The car is pulled to an individual who is lucky, and this is when the tug of war starts. You will feel like you are back in your childhood when you join this festival. This is a very local type of festival, I am pretty sure it will become a heartwarming type of experience for you. Here is the official website of the festival: https://nambayasaka.jp/?page_id=145 (Only in Japanese)
Image courtesy of bittercup
Tondo Festival takes place at Senri Shrine in Toyonaka City in Osaka. This festival is registered as an important intangible cultural property. The idea of this festival is to show the appreciation to the god for divine protection in the previous year and wish for good luck for the upcoming year. The highlight of this festival is the bonfire which reaches 15 meters high. The fire lit up the ground and shrine that makes it look very holy yet powerful. Why don’t you join this traditional event and wish for the good luck for your loved ones? Here is the official website for the event, please check it if you are interested in http://senritenjin.com/saiji/ (Only in Japanese)
Image courtesy of ジゼル1043
This event takes place at Universal Studio Japan. It started 5 years ago. The event collaborates with Japanese animation companies and Universal Studio characters on a big scale. There are two terms for this event in spring (Jan 18th to Jun 23rd) and in summer (May 31st – Aug 25th). In the spring term, you can join offers of 5 special types of entertainment rides collaborating with Japanese long lasting famous animations – “Detective Conan” and “Lupin the third”. Let’s get excited with these thrilling rides and the magical atmosphere of Universal Studio Japan while you stay in Osaka. For more information, please visit the official website of the event: https://www.usj.co.jp/universal-cool-japan2019/
Image courtesy of Kobak
This is the biggest Japanese anime related event in the Kansai area. It usually takes place twice a year on a large scale. The difference from the same type of events in Tokyo is the sex ratio. At the Comic City Osaka, there will be more women creators gathering from all over Japan. You can explore all genre of animation created by professionals and armatures. It is a good opportunity to learn about Japanese animation culture. Also, there will be stunning cosplayers joining this event. You will be surprised because they look exactly like the animation characters. So detailed! Please look at the official website of this event for more details: https://www.akaboo.jp/neo/event/p2630.html (Only in Japanese)
Doya Doya Festival is an outstanding festival that you shouldn’t miss if you would like to explore somehow weird Japanese traditions. This festival is one of the biggest naked festivals in the Kansai area. About 600 Japanese guys are divided into two teams. One team is wearing red fundoshi (Japanese traditional underwear) and another wears white ones. The teams compete in catching paper charms thrown in the main hall of the temple creating a mess of nearly naked guys. It is fun to see these men’s energy in such a cold weather. Besides, during the competition, the men are splashed with water which makes the scene look even more dynamic. Please refer to the following article for more information, URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/events/osaka-shitennoji-temple-doya-doya-festival
Image courtesy of lasta29
Like in any other city in Kansai area, February is the coldest season of the year. It gets gradually warm towards the end of the month. But if you want to be on the safe side, please bring a winter jacket and scarf to protect yourself from the freezing air. This way you can enjoy strolling around the city much longer. There are not many festivals and events this month. However, there are still many places to go and see in Osaka. Remember, Osaka is the city which never sleeps. So let’s check them out!
Setsubun is a Japanese traditional event to get rid of the evil spirits and welcome the luck for the New Year. There will be several events and festivals going on all over Japan during this season. Usually, those events take place either in Shrines or Temples. But this one in Osaka is somehow different. It takes place in a commercial district. Setsubun at Tsutgenkaku is held every year in the first week of February. The schedule for 2019 is not fixed yet. But if you want to experience this so Osaka-like Setsubun event, please check and join this festival. For more information, please check the website: https://www.tsutenkaku.co.jp/ (Only in Japanese) *Setsubun event for 2019 is not updated yet.
Image courtesy of kyu3
If you are in Osaka and curious about traditional Setsubun event, the Dojima Yakushido Setsubun Omizukumi Festival is the one for you to see. It is a typical and traditional Japanese Setsubun event that takes place at modern-looking temple. You will see monks, people in goblin costumes and lucky guys (Fukuoka) parading along the street over the sounds of conch horn and drums. Also, sweet red beans soup will be served at the venue. Enjoy the event and feel Japanese Setsubun with local people while you are at the festival. Here is the website for the event: http://www.kita-shinchi.org/omizukumi.html (The information on the official website is not updated yet)
Image courtesy of Tokumeigakarinoaoshima
This is a huge event for car lovers. It started in 1997 and since then this event is loved by those who are into mechanics and automobiles. There will be many edgy and cool-looking cars exhibited at this three-day show. Even if you are not so much into cars, you will enjoy it just by looking at those beautiful looking vehicles. Every year over 200,000 people join this event and enjoy the show. You can walk around, eat Osaka B rank (meaning junk) foods at the venue. It may be a good idea to spend a day and find out something new and innovative about automobiles on one of the coldest days in Osaka. Here is the official website of this festival: https://www.automesse.jp/en/
Image courtesy of hiromitsu morimoto
Visiting Osaka Museum of History will help you to learn more about Osaka. The admission fee is 600 Yen for the adults and an audio guide will be provided in English, Chinese, and Korean. Strolling around historical sites would be another way to learn about the city but visiting Museum will give you more insight and knowledge of the place you are at. It will not take a whole day to see all the exhibitions. I am pretty sure that you will fall in love with Osaka after visiting this Museum. Their official website will provide you with more detailed information on the upcoming exhibitions: http://www.mus-his.city.osaka.jp/eng/
The weather gets warmer at the end of February. February is the best season for enjoying plum blossoms if you are lucky. There will be over 800 plum trees covered in red or white scattered flowers occupying around 33,000 square meters of the grounds of Domyoji Shrine during this festival. The fragrance coming from those plum flowers and their colors will comfort your spirit. You can also enjoy seasonal rituals and green tea at the venue. Enjoy the smell of spring while you are at the festival. Why don’t you take a look at the official website of this festival: http://www.domyojitenmangu.com/ume.html ( Only in Japanese)
This is a very local and small festival which takes place in the Tsukamoto area in Osaka. It honors the girls scarifying themselves to save the community from the flood of Yodo River. This festival is registered as an intangible Fold Cultural Asset of Osaka Prefecture. You will see 7 little girls in traditional costumes parading with priest to the shrine and attend a traditional shinto ceremony at the shrine. Nothing too spectacular but joining to this festival will warm up your heart for sure. Here is the link about the game and team, please take a look at: http://www.city.osaka.lg.jp/nishiyodogawa/page/0000297379.html (Only in Japanese, but automatic translation is available)
Image courtesy of Kentiki
Osaka has become one of the three best prefectures to visit in Japan nowadays. More people from abroad start visiting Osaka. Osaka is famous as a friendly and welcoming city. If you are a person who wants to find authentic experience and fun people, please come and visit this energetic metropolis. I assure you that you never regret your decision after visiting Osaka. If you would like a local guide to spend a day with you or take you to a festival and tell you even more information about the area and local traditions, please check the banner below!