Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival 2019 – a Fairy Tale of Snow and Illumination




I am going to introduce one of the biggest snow festivals in Japan – Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival. It takes place in Yonezawa city, Yamagata Prefecture. About 1,300 snow lanterns are lit up and placed in a park. If you would like to enjoy the sacred atmosphere on a winter night, this article will tell you more about this charming event.

Outline of the Festival

On the second Saturday and Sunday of February, the snow festival takes place at Uesugi-Jinja Shrine and Matsugasaki Park at the ruins of an old castle. It started 40 years ago to enjoy the scenery and the atmosphere of the snow because we have a tremendous amount of snow here and the view is just stunning.

Concepts of the Festival

Uesugi Snow Lantern Festival has three major concepts.

1. Peace

Thinking of our ancestors who developed unity in this area and the world, we light the candles and pray for peace.

2. Public participation

People can participate in this festival and make a snow lantern for everyone to

enjoy the beautiful snow scenery.

3. Omotenashi

With a heart of ‘Oshoshina’ which is a local dialect and means ‘Thank you,’ people welcome tourists. Generally, this is a concept of hospitality.

Things to Do and See

Not only snow lanterns but also colorful candles are beautiful to see. You must enjoy various food stalls at the festival as well! After seeing lanterns and candles, you can have a meal. There are many local dishes such as Yonezawa ramen, hotpot, Yonezawa beef skewers, and Tamakonnyaku and foods from other areas that are related to Yonezawa city. Food stalls are the places where you should go when you visit the Japanese festival. It is fun to choose various foods and talk with local people selling the food.

Furthermore, don`t miss the stage performances like dances and music events during the festival!

Who is Uesugi?

Uesugi-Jinja Shrine worships Uesugi Kenshin and Uesugi Youzan. They both are heroes of this city. Kenshin is a famous samurai who lived about 450 years ago in this area. He had been strong and intelligent. After many years, in the Edo period, the domain of  Yonezawa was in debt. It was Youzan that saved money to change this difficult situation and invested in the development of the area. He brought the industry back to the area and improved the lives of residents.  Now, both are respected by many people. Even John F. Kennedy also admired Uesugi Youzan.

Details and Access

Dates and Schedule: The festival takes place on the second weekend of February every year. In 2019 it will be held on Feb 9th and 10th. Snow lanterns pre-lighting will be on Feb 8th (Fri).

Place: Uesugi Shrine

Address: 1 Chome-4-13 Marunouchi Yonezawa-shi, Yamagata-ken

Official Website (Japanese only):


Uesugi-Jinja Shrine where the festival is held is a little far from Yonezawa Station, but you can go there by shuttle bus. From 10:30 to 21:30 there is a shuttle bus service between Yonezawa Station and the place. The bus departs every 20 minutes.

The bus fare is:

Junior high school student or older: 200 Yen

Elementary school students: 100 Yen

Preschool children: free

The road might be slippery, so please be careful not to slip and fall. Besides, don`t forget to put something warm and grab some hot drink at Yatai (food stall)!

Closing Remarks

I think that this is a unique and exciting festival. Unlike illumination, snow lanterns have warm candlelight. You will be impressed and charmed with it. In spring when cherry trees bloom, other festival takes place in the park. I’m sure that you will have a good time whenever you come to Yonezawa.

You can experience this festival as well with local friends! If you need any guides to take you around the festival and show you even more things to do in the area check below!

For All Snow Lovers…

Winter is a great season to enjoy Japan! I hope you enjoyed reading this article and it made you visit this event. There are plenty of festivals and events in Japan in winter, as Japanese people traditionally have a lot of celebrations in this season. Most of the events start in the evening to enjoy candle lights which bring a cozy and charming atmosphere.
For all snow lovers, the following article suggests you ten best spots to enjoy snow in Japan!
Click here! URL:

More Lantern Festivals

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, please click on the link below and you will find an article on best 13 lantern festivals in Japan!


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 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!


Minori Imano

I'm Minori. I live in Sendai. I like cooking Japanese food and baking cakes.

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