Winter

Yamaga Hyakka Hyakusai 2019 – a Romantic Lantern Event in Kumamoto

Maggie

Writer

Hyakka Hyakusai is a winter garden lantern event that takes place every Friday and Saturday from 7 pm to 10 pm in February every year. Candles light up Japanese umbrellas and bamboos and create a majestic view of the main street of Yamaga district, Buzen kaido/route (豊前街道). On the first weekend, there is an opening event. Also, there are food stands to warm you up! Let’s take a closer look at this charming event!

History of the Festival

Yamaga used to be a famous area for producing Japanese umbrellas (wagasa, 和傘). Locals wanted to bring back the era and have a festival to display wagasa, so they started this festival. You would feel the heart of Yamaga while wrapped in gentle lights when you visit this outstandingly charming winter event. In Kyushu, there are 6 prefectures hosting winter light festivals and Yamaga Hyakka Hyakusai is one of them. During the festival, period the playhouse – Yachiyoza (八千代座),  one of the important cultural properties, offers traditional performing arts as well.

Yamaga Town

The town of Yamaga is located in a small area near the border of Fukuoka prefecture in Kumamoto. The area is famous for having many onsens (hot springs) along the Buzen kaido street. The whole district features many historical buildings that make you feel like you have traveled back in time. During summer, there is a Yamaga Tōrō festival lasting for two days, which is another popular festival in Kumamoto. Tōrō is a latern from Yamaga that is registered on Country Designation Traditional Crafts.

This local craft that started in the Muromachi Period. The traditional Yamaga lantern is made out of Japanese paper (washi, 和紙) and a little bit of glue. You will find no woods or metals in it. Accurate work makes the paper a piece of art. You can purchase one as a gift from a local gift shop as well.

Participating in the Light up

You can join the locals to light up thousands of candles on Buzen kaido. All you need is a lighter with a long stem. It starts at 5:30 pm and goes on until 10 pm. Feel free to join and help lighting up all the candles!

Process of Preparing for the Festival

It started with locals wanting to attract more people to the traditional local art. The residents, local stores, a local tourism organization, college students, employees of the city and the prefecture all take part in the preparation for this festival. Many people of different status get together and start the process two months prior to the festival.

In December, they go to mountains and cut fresh bamboos. 3 meter-long pieces of bamboo then sliced into smaller pieces. During the severe cold, people process and color the bamboo until February. Then, one day in February when the sun is setting, they display umbrellas, lamps, and lanterns along the Buzen kaido by hand one by one.

Yachiyoza

At the playhouse, Yachiyoza, they set Yamaga taiko (Japanese drums) performances and Yamaga Tōrō odori (lantern dancing). I am sure, you will enjoy the upbeat sounds of Japanese flute rhyming with taiko and the beauty and elegance of the dances will fascinate you. Enjoy the luxury of being inside the important cultural property and two opposite styles of local performing arts. Performances take place in the evenings during the festival one show a day. The admission is 1,000 Yen and tickets go on sale on the evening of the performance at the box office.  

The image courtesy of JoshBerglund19

Details and Access:

Dates: February 1st, 2nd, 8th, 9th, 15th, 16th, 22nd, 23rd, 2019. Generally, the event takes place every Friday and Saturday night in February every year.

Place: Central part of Yanaga Onsen. Yunohata Park

Address: Kumamoto Prefecture, Yamaga, 1565

Official website (Japanese only): https://yamaga100.com/

Access:

Yamaga hyakkahyakusai festival can be accessed by bus or car. Yamaga Onsen bus station can be reached from Hakata or Kumamoto area. It’s about 90 minutes from both areas. If you are driving there are many parking available both free and paid spots near the festival.

Closing Remarks

When its cold outside, I suggest you soak in onsen to warm up your body. While enjoying onsen in Yamaga, warm up your heart with lights at Hyakka Hyakusai. Not just the buildings that keep the local history alive, this festival is local’s hearts and it keeps the historical local arts alive as well. You cannot find an event like this anywhere else!

If you would like to discover this amazing festival along with Kumamoto prefecture together with a local guide, please check the banner below!

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, 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!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5021/

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 this season. Most of the events are held in the evening to enjoy candle lights which bring a cozy and charming atmosphere.
For all snow lovers, the following article suggests you 10 best spots to enjoy snow in Japan!
Click here! URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/4442/

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 try there. Please don`t hesitate to take a look at it!

URL: https://festivalgo.huber-japan.com/events/5363/

Maggie

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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