#1. Sapporo Snow Festival – Hokkaido
The Sapporo Snow Festival is the most famous festival in Sapporo every February. There are many snow ice sculptures on display a the festival. The sculptures are of famous people or characters. This is an interesting event for anyone, there is illuminated ice sculptures at night, and you can get a hot drink at the Ice Bar.
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Sapporo Snow Festival
Address: 1-12 Odorinishi, Chuo Ward, Sapporo City, Hokkaido
Access: 3 minute walk from Odori Station
Date: February 6th – 12th, 2017
Website: Sapporo Snow Festival
#2. Namahage Sedo Festival – Akita
Photo Credit: namahage-oga.akita.jp
The Namahage Sedo Festival is a traditional festival held in the Akita prefecture of Japan. Namahage comes from traditional Japanese folklore, they are portrayed as men wearing large ogre masks and traditional straw capes. The festival is famous for the association to the namahage in Akita. The men go from house to house knocking on doors asking if there are any bad children. The men walk around in the scary outfits with deba knives made from papier-mache. It is said that the children who cry the most can live a healthy life. After that, tourists who can encounter the monsters running in the snow to a shrine. This festival happens every February.
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Namahage Sedo Festival
Address: 97 Mizukuisawa Kitaurashinzan, Oga City, Akita
Access: 40 minutes by bus from Oga Station
Date: February 12th – 14th, 2016
Website: Namahage Sedo Festival
#3. Niino Snow Festival – Nagano
Photo Credit: nippon-matsuri.net
The Niino Snow Festival is to pray for a good harvest, people dressed in traditional Japanese farmer’s costume called “saiho” have unique patterns, the dance is similar to a monkey dance. Since the costumes are so flashy, many locals dress in a white kimono. And visitors can enjoy other traditional dances while local people play the Taiko drums deep in the snow.
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Niino Snow Festival
Address: 2608−4 Niino Anancho, Shimoinagun, Nagano
Access: 35 minutes by car from Inakozawa Station
Date: January 14th, 2017
Website: Niino Snow Festival (Japanese)
#4. Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival – Akita
The Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival started about 400 years ago. Many snow huts around the town and they vary in size. The igloo-like structures are called kamakuras. The locals eat rice cakes and drink warm sake. Children in kamakuras shout “haittetanse” at people walking by. When the visitors are invited by the locals, they can taste amazake which is traditional Japanese white sake made from melted rice, it has a low alcohol level. At night many candles around the kamakuras are lit and it is so beautiful. This festival would be a fantastic event for visitors during the night. In the past the festival was held to pray for a good harvest.
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Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival
Address: 2 Shiroyamamachi, Yokote City, Akita
Access: 8 minutes by car from Yokote Station
Date: February 13th – 16th, 2016
Website: Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival (Japanese)
#5. Saidaiji Eyo Naked Festival – Okayama
Photo Credit: Mstyslav Chernov@wikimedia
The Saidaiji Eyo Naked Festival in the Okayama prefecture has a history of about 500 years. It is one of famous and mysterious festivals in Japan. About 9,000 almost naked men try to grab the scared sticks during the festival. After the festival is over, spring is supposed to come soon.
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Saidaiji Eyo Naked Festival
Address: 3-8-8 Saidaijinaka, Higashi Ward, Okayama City, Okayama
Access: 10 minute walk from Seidaiji Station
Date: 3rd Saturday on February
Website: Saidaiji Eyo Naked Festival (Japanese)
#6. Nagasaki Lantern Festival – Nagasaki
Photo Credit: senngokujidai4434@flickr
During the Nagasaki Lantern Festival many Chinese lanterns can be seen every where in central parts in Nagasaki prefecture. Meganebashi is a famous bridge in Nagasaki, it is also decorated with beautiful lanterns. There are huge lanterns of all different animals and it is extremely impressive. There is a huge Chinese dragon dance performance and it is magnificent, its as if a dragon is swimming through the air.
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Nagasaki Lantern Festival
Address: 9 Shinchimachi, Nagasaki City, Nagasaki
Access: 2 minute walk from Tsukimachi Station
Date: January 28th – February 11th, 2017
Website: Nagasaki Lantern Festival
#7. Hachinohe Enburi Festival – Aomori
Photo Credit: hachinohe-kanko.com
The Hachinohe Enburi Festival in the Aomori prefecture has a lot of snow during the winter. So anyone living there is always waiting for the spring. At the festival people wearing farmer’s costumes dance a traditonal dance to pray for the spring and a good harvest. This dance imitates farmers planting rice. Enjoy the dancing while following along with the story.
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Hachinohe Enburi Festival
Address: 1-1-1 Uchimaru, Hachinohe City, Aomori
Access: 17 minutes by bus from Hachinohe Station
Date: February 17th – 20th, 2017
Website: Hachinohe Enburi Festival (Japanese)
#8. Oto Festival – Wakayama
Photo Credit: pref.wakayama.lg.jp
The Oto Festival is held in the Wakayama Prefecture during the winter. About 2,000 men light five-sided torches and stand around the shrine. During the event, the men run through the shrine while holding the torches. It looks like a fiery dragon. On the day of the festival, women are prohibited from entering the Kamikura Shrine, they can watch from the path leading to the shrine.
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Address: Shingu, Shingu City, Wakayama
Access: 16 minute walk from Shingu Station
Date: February 6th, 2017
Website: Oto Festival (Japanese)
#9. Flower Festival – Aichi
Photo Credit: honokuni.or.jp
Although the name of the festival is the Flower Festival, no flowers appear in this festival. Instead, Japanese mythical devils with sharp fangs dance about 40 kinds of traditional dances related to the festival, the dances are for the gods. This festival has been around since the Kamakura period. It is a very traditional festival in the Aichi prefecture.
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Address: Kitashitaragun, Aichi
Website: Flower Festival (Japanese)
#10. Shujouonie Festival – Oita
Photo Credit: city.bungotakada.oita.jp
The Shujouonie Festival is associated with a Japanese religion. The traditions and actions taken by the priests at the festival are quite unique and spiritual. Therefore, this festival is not too common for visitors. Of course, this festival is held by the priest of Tendaisyu or the Tendai sect. Followers of the Tendai sect enter a cold pond in front of the other priests. While in the pond, the priests chant Buddhist scriptures. After that, in the temple the priests chant Buddhist scriptures to their followers with a unique performance about the Tendai sect.
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Address: 1222 Iwatodera, Kunisakimachi, Kunisaki City, Oita
Access: 35 minutes by car from Oita Airport
Website: Shojuonie Festival (Japanese)