Kibune Festival (神奈川 貴船祭り) is one of the festivals that belongs to Kibune Shrine in Manazuru-machi, Kanagawa prefecture. It is a “Ship Festival” which features a total of 7 vessels, East and West Porcupine and East and West Minoya, Shinko Ship, Eastern Wing ship. From the record, the festival was established in the middle of Heian period, first year of Kanpei (in 889) and it is held for two days from July 27 to 28 in various parts of Manazuru town. Mikoshi (portable shrine) ships depart from Kibune shrine on the first day of the festival and go to the village on the other side of the bay. On the second day, Mikoshi will return to Kibune shrine. This festival is counted as one of Japan’s three major ship festivals and has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural property of Japan.

History of the festival

According to “Aishū Seibu Nishi-kin Manadzuru-mura-sho-jō ke-chō”, the document of the West Azuchi from Yoshifumi 12 years (1678), from the time, at the port of Manazuru, there was a description that the festival is held for the prayers in the ships. Along with the development of Manazuru by the rise of the stone industry in the later Genroku period and the development of Manzuru by the influx of Edo culture, the form of majestic small express boat was built in the second year of Toka (1845). Since then, total of seven has been arranged with the format of ocean passing by the current. The appearance that the gleaming ship flying on the port of Manazuru in summer singing a festival accompanied by mikoshi is reminiscent of the era embroidered scene, and many visitors are fascinated.

Agenda for the festival

On the night of July 26, the festival begins with the dedication of Kashima Odori to Tenno shrine at Tsushima Shrine. Because there is enshrinement of Susanoomikoto (素盞嗚尊), which is regarded as a wild god in the Tenno. This dedication also has the meaning of quenching the warrior who dominates the area. Traditionally it is said that “the Kibune festival begins with the Kashima dance and ends in the Kashima dance.” When Kajima Odori dedication is over, Hayashi (festival music using historic Japanese music instruments) is performed by Higashi-Hayashi accompaniment, followed by another hayashi by local children society. These dedication of Kashima dancing and hayashi at Tsushima Shrine is called “Soroi (揃い, collecting)”. Each has gotten practiced, the role of a place of confirmation / examination as to whether the technology is completed before the Kibune festival. It is an essential event for the implementation of the festival.

Highlights of the festval

Highlights of the festival are maritime transfers where the Mikoshi goes through the port of Manazuru. Beginning with “water floating” (水浮け, launching formula) of two small east-west boats decorated with color, kaitenma tows each ship and pass from the front of Kibune shrine to Okariya shop on the sea. On the next day, Hanayama cars, shrine mikoshi, accompanied by musicians travel around the town, and the Kashima dance is prayed for the peaceful life of residents and fulfillment of various wishes everywhere. With a focus on “Mikoshi ship” which was hauled by hand-harvested “kaitemasen”, two east-west Japanese ships “kohayashibune” decorated luxuriously with colorful artificial flowers and golden strips and a whistle as the drum’s “Hayashi ship” goes through the harbor, the ocean is full of ornate colors. Also, you cannot miss the fireworks display decorating the finale of the festival.


If you are heading to the festival with your car, you can access from Kokudo Highway 135 and get off at Odawara Atsugi Road “Odawara Nishi interchange”. It is about 20 minutes from the interchange. If you are using public transportation, it is about 20 minute walk from JR “Manazuru” Station.

Closing remarks

This is a very unique festival as the festival happens on the sea. The festival goes until night time and you can see the reflection of lights on water. Kanagawa is easy to access from Tokyo so if you are in the area, I recommend checking this out!

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Hi! I am Maggie. I love traveling and telling people about cool things happening in Japan. Hope the article helps with your trip to Japan!

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