10 Entertaining Winter Festivals in Japan | FAST JAPAN
Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival - Akita

10 Entertaining Winter Festivals in Japan

There are many winter festivals in Japan. Some of the festivals are very traditional, some are for a good harvest, and some pray for an early spring. No matter what festival, it is sure to be entertaining.

#1. Sapporo Snow Festival – Hokkaido

Japan Winter Festival

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

Japan Winter Festival
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

Japan Winter Festival
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

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

Japan Winter Festival

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

Japan Winter Festival
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

Japan Winter Festival
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

Japan Winter Festival
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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Oto Festival

Address: Shingu, Shingu City, Wakayama

Access: 16 minute walk from Shingu Station

Date: February 6th, 2017

Website: Oto Festival (Japanese)


#9. Flower Festival – Aichi

Japan Winter Festival
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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Flower Festival

Address: Kitashitaragun, Aichi

Phone: 052-954-6097

Website: Flower Festival (Japanese)


#10. Shujouonie Festival – Oita

Japan Winter Festival
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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Shojuonie Festival

Address: 1222 Iwatodera, Kunisakimachi, Kunisaki City, Oita

Access: 35 minutes by car from Oita Airport

Phone: 0978-72-2677

Website: Shojuonie Festival (Japanese)


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