Translated by MATCHA_En
Nagoya Festival: Experience The Time Of The Samurai!
Did you know that there was an event where you could experience the lives of the samurai held in Nagoya? The Nagoya Festival is a 60 year strong event that shows off the best of Nagoya and samurai culture.
Written by Saeko Keikyu
Beginning in 1955, the Nagoya Festival, is an event held in Nagoya, Aichi prefecture every October. This event is a must-see for anyone interested in experiencing the world of the samurai.
The numbers of visitors coming to this festival from abroad have been increasing year by year, and you will find the majority of them taking photos here and there throughout the festival and its events.
This festival is also very convenient for travelers as it takes place in Nagoya, which is a shinkansen stop itself. In this article, we will learn about the various ways to enjoy the Nagoya Festival.
Incidentally, we visited this festival with some international students from the U.S.: Elizabeth, Lexa, and Chris.
From the left: Elizabeth, Lexa, Chris. Front: the writer
Elizabeth is a history lover who has studied Japanese history at college, Lexa loves festivals and Japanese anime and pop culture, and Chris is a girl who loves Japanese cute stationery.
In this article you can also hear about their favorite parts of the Nagoya Festival as well.
1. Parades of Ninja and Samurai
The biggest draw of the Nagoya Festival are the parades. Not only can you see samurai, but also ninja, drum bands made up of local children, and traditional dance teams from all across Japan. They all gather together and parade through the streets of Nagoya during this festival.
The starting time may vary every year, but in 2015 the parade took place from 13:40 to 15:00 on Saturday, and from 11:00 to 14:00 on Sunday. The streets get very crowded during this time, so if you want to get the best vantage point in order to take pictures, we really recommend arriving 30 minutes early and getting a spot on the main road.
And, there is a reproduction of a samurai fight performed with traditional firearms (done using blanks of course) at one of the crossing points of the parade near Sakae intersection. If you’d like a front row seat to this reenactment, then plant to arrive even earlier to stake out your spot.
2. Enjoy Local Nagoya Cuisine
Nagoya is well-known for the unique food culture that has developed there. When speaking in general about Nagoya’s many regional specialties, most people use the term ‘Nagoya meshi’ (Nagoya food).
At the Nagoya Festival you can enjoy Nagoya-meshi that are only available in this area. Dishes such as miso katsu (fried pork cutlet with miso sauce), kishimen noodles (udon-like noodles in soup), ten-musu (temura shrimp sushi), tebasaki (fried chicken wings), and other dishes have been arranged and designed just for this event.
Here you can see one of the arrangements of kishimen noodles available during the festival: curry kishimen, where these simple noodles are modernized by adding curry to their broth. Actually, these noodles are so popular that they took first place at the All Japan Local Udon Summit in 2014! The harmony between the spicy curry soup and the flat kishimen noodles is just wonderful.
One of the toppings, fried shrimp, is also a regional specialty in Nagoya, and it makes the dish look quite exciting too. Elizabeth ordered this food and she absolutely loved it.
3. Traditional Inherited Arts: Boh-no-te and Wadaiko Drums
At sunset on the main stage in Sakae, traditional performances of different arts take place. One of which, Boh-no-te is a martial art that has been handed down through the generations since about the year 1500, and was formalized as a traditional art in the late 1800’s.
There are also performances of Wadaiko drums. Watching the people beating drums with all their energy and heart seemed to really move my three American friends very much.
When the festival was over, I asked them what they liked most that day.
Elizabeth: “I enjoyed the samurai parade and the performance by Nagoya Omotenashi Bushotai (a samurai group) because I really felt like I got to experience traditional Japan. Also the people I talked to were all friendly, and I really enjoyed that!”
Lexa: “I loved the wadaiko, and all the performances! I just love the fun atmosphere of the festival!”
Chris: “I also liked the wadaiko performance. Especially, the turning and twisting of drumsticks was very cool! And I felt somewhat nostalgic. I’m partly Native American, and there was something similar between the Native American traditional arts that I saw in childhood and Japanese traditional arts”.
Japanese history fans are surely aware that many of the powerful feudal lords, like Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu were born and raised in Aichi prefecture, making Nagoya the ideal place to showcase traditions from the age of the samurai. The Nagoya Festival is becoming bigger and more popular every year, and is a lot of fun for both the Japanese and international guests. Why not pay a visit to this fun city and exciting festival next year?
Address: Aichi, Nagoya, Shinaka, Sakae 3-5-12 area
Takes Place: mid-October every year
Credit Cards: Depends on the shop
Other Languages: English pamphlets available; depends on shop
Nearest Station: Sakae Station, subway
Access: Exit 4A of Sakae Station
Website: Nagoya Festival