Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Four Festivals You Should Enjoy In Chūgoku And Shikoku
Written by MATCHA
There are many appealing festivals in the Chūgoku and Shikoku regions, such as the Kangensai, the Yosakoi Festival, the Awa Odori, and the Niihama Taiko Festival. Today we'll be introducing these unique festivals.
There are countless appealing festivals in the Chūgoku region and the Shikoku region. There is an elegant festival where you can listen to traditional music at a world heritage shrine, and a lively one where you can dance around the city. Today we'll be introducing some of the well-known festivals in the Chūgoku and Shikoku areas.
1. Hatsukaichi City, Hiroshima: Kangensai Festival
©Hiroshima Prefecture / ©JNTO
This festival is held annually in early August, at the world heritage site Istukushima Shrine in Hatsukaichi city of Hiroshima prefecture. Miyajima is a majestic and sacred island, sometimes called the "Mont Saint-Michel of Japan". The Kangensai Festival held here is also full of divinity.
©Hiroshima Prefecture / ©JNTO
"Kangen" means "wind and string instruments". True to its name, there are performances of traditional Japanese wind and string instruments.
The Kangensai is said to have been started by Taira no Kiyomori, a man of power in the 12th century. At that time, it was popular among nobles to float boats on the water and play instruments like the flute and the koto.
The beautiful sound of wind and string instruments resounding around the island create a dreamy experience for the participants. The entrance fee to Itsukushima Shrine is 300 yen for adults, 200 yen for high school students, and 100 yen for elementary and middle school students. Miyajima is a 5 minute walk from JR Miyajimaguchi station.
Address: Hiroshima, Hatsukaichi, Miyajimachō 1162-18
2. Kochi City, Kochi: Yosakoi Matsuri
© Kochi Visitors & Convention Association/©JNTO
This festival is held annually in Kochi city of Kochi prefecture from August 9th through the 12th. It is one of the three Great Yosakoi Festivals in Shikoku, along with the Awa Odori in Tokushima and the Niihama Taiko Festival in Ehime.
It is also the original home of the "Yosakoi festivals" that have come to be held all throughout Japan. It is also one of the Three Great Yosakoi Festivals of Japan, alongside the YOSAKOI Sasebo Festival in Sasebo city of Nagasaki, and the YOSAKOI Soran Festival held in Sapporo city of Hokkaido.
What's unique about Yosakoi festivals is that people dance while clapping naruko (*1), which were originally used to ward off harmful birds. The choreography of the dances originally were based on traditional Japanese dancing, but in recent years the dancing teams have added their own touches to the music, as well as created their own unique costumes and makeup.
At Ōtesuji nearby Kochi Castle, where the main venue is, reserved seating for spectators is available for 1800 yen and unreserved seating for 1300 yen.
Address: Kochi Kochi-shi Ōtesuji 2
Official Website: Yosakoi Matsuri (Japanese)
*1 Naruko: a wooden clapper similar to a castanet used to make noise.
3. Tokushima: Awa Odori
This festival is held every year from August 12 to 15 in Tokushima city of Tokushima prefecture.
Awa Odori dancing festivals are held in a number of places in Japan now, but the home of the Awa Odori is here in Tokushima. 1,300,000 people visit every year to dance at this large-scale event.
Awa Odori dancing is different for men and women. Women perform a more sensual kind of dance while men dance dynamically using a fan. The dancing is enjoyed along with the fun music created by six traditional Japanese instruments.
The festival is held in an urban area to the south of the JR Tokushima station, and visitors can watch the dancing at a theater. There is a free theater and a theater with a fee. Of course, the theater you have to pay for offers a higher quality of dancing. The venue is right in front of JR Tokushima station so you won't have trouble getting there. What you'll have to be careful about though is where to stay the night. The number of places to stay in Tokushima city is limited, so we recommend you book a room early.
Address: Tokushima, Tokushima, Terashimahonchōnishi 1
Website: Awa Odori (Tokushima Official Website)
4. Niihama, Ehime: Taiko Festival
This festival is held annually in Niihama city in Ehime prefecture from the 16th to the 18th of October.
This festival is unique for its luxurious dashi (*2) decorated in gold and silver called "Taikodai". More than 50 dashi parade through the streets.
The highlight of the Niihama Taiko Festival has to be the Kakikurabe. The Kakikurabe is a competitive performance where about 150 men remove the wheels and lift up the 2.5 ton Taikodai. At times the men will hit the Taikodai together. It's a performance that often leaves spectators blown away. However, you should keep a distance to prevent accidents from happening.
The Kakikurabe takes place in various places around the city, but we recommend the Ikku Shrine path as it's the spot with the most excitement. You can purchase tickets in advance for viewing seats at the Ikku no Mori Museum for 3000 or 3500 yen, or on the day of the event for 3500 or 4000 yen. Ikku Shrine is a 30 minute walk from JR Niihama station or a 10 minute ride by car. It's a little hard to reach, but the sounds of the Taiko and the heated atmosphere of the Kakikurabe are worth seeing.
Address: Ehime, Niihama, Ikkuchō 1-3-1
Website: Niihama Taiko Festival (Niihama City Tourism Website)
*2 Dashi: A vehicle for the gods. People pull it by rope at festivals.
Chūgoku and Shikoku Region Festival MAP