Matsuri: Nagoya Festivals
Nagoya Festivals 名古屋祭り
Nagoya and the surrounding area of Chubu in central Japan has a number of interesting and in some cases, highly bizarre festivals.
Many traditional Japanese festivals involve a procession with a mikoshi or giant floats pulled through the streets with participants in period dress or happi coats. Inuyama and Arimatsu festivals are matsuri of this type.
Some Japanese festivals are relatively modern and are grand, civic affairs - Nagoya Festival is one such "modern festival."
See below for a listing of Nagoya and Chubu festivals by month.
Nagoya Festival Listing By Month
Shogatsu (New Year)
Shrines around Nagoya especially Atsuta Shrine are packed with worshippers coming to pray for a successful, healthy and prosperous new year.
Tagata Jinja Hounen Sai
The bizarre Tagata Fertility Festival takes place annually on March 15 and has become increasingly popular with Japanese and foreigners alike. The Tagata Fertility Festival consists of a procession between Kumano Shrine and Tagata Shrine near Inuyama, north of Nagoya, with boisterous participants carrying a 2m long wooden phallus accompanied by participants in costume and musicians.
To get to the Tagata Fertility Festival take a train to Inuyama and then change to a local train to Tagata Jinja Mae.
Konomiya Naked Festival
The ancient and equally strange Konomiya Naked Festival occurs around the end of February, beginning of March depending on the lunar calendar. The festival is proceeded earlier by the choosing of a shin-otoko or ("god-man") at Konomiya Shrine in Konomiya, just outside Nagoya. On the day of the festival proper thousands of men dressed only in loincloths - many of them aged 23 or 42 (ages considered unlucky or yakudoshi) - converge on the shin-otoko in an effort to touch him and thus pass on their bad luck and so rid themselves of evil. The festival can get very rough and the shin-otoko is protected by special shrine guards to prevent him getting killed in the crush of naked flesh.
The traditional Inuyama Festival takes place in nearby Inuyama on the first weekend of April. Thirteen huge dashi floats are paraded around Inuyama dragged by happi-clad participants. Flute players and drummers ride the floats and play the traditional festival tunes for the crowds below as mechanical puppets (karakuri) are also displayed on the floats. The festival is hosted by Haritsuna Shrine and is a lively and enjoyable time with many street stalls selling food and beer. From Nagoya Station, Inuyama is around 30 minutes by Meitetsu Inuyama Line and about the same time from Gifu Meitetsu Station.
Kakuozan Spring Festival
The Kakuozan Spring Festival takes place in early April on the approach to Nittaiji Temple. There is a mix of stalls selling food and bric-a-brac.
Horse Festival at Tado Shrine
The horse festival known as ageuma at Tado Shrine near Kuwana in Mie, just west of Nagoya is held on the first weekend in May. Horses ridden by 12 young men (chosen by lot) ride in a procession towards Tado Shrine. Horse and rider then try to climb a 3m high muddy slope to the flat square of the shrine's main buildings, where the round starts again. For the young, local men chosen as riders, reaching the top of the slope, still aboard the horse, is a rite of passage celebrated with jubilation. Many riders are thrown, and the potential for physical damage is to horse and rider is great. Not for the faint-hearted.
Owari Tsushima Festival
The spectacular Owari Tsushima Festival with boats covered in paper lanterns takes place on the 4th Saturday and Sunday in July in Tsushima, a north western suburb of Nagoya. On the Saturday evening five wood and straw boats decorated with hundreds of paper lanterns float on the Tenno river setting the water glittering with reflected light. There are firework displays, flute music and taiko drumming to entertain the thousands of people who attend the festival, many wearing colorful summer yukata.
Nagoya Castle is the venue for a summer festival known as Natsu no yoru no busho matsuri in Japanese. There are displays of Edo period firearms, a night market, Bon dancing and beer hall as well as illuminated lanterns. The castle has a special night opening and Nagoya Castle is lit up.
Nagoya Festival is held in October and features parades of large floats down Nagoya's main streets with participants in samurai costume. Other events include marching bands, flower parades, open-car parades, kagura, and lots of children's activities.
Arimatsu Matsuri takes place on the first Sunday in October with floats pulled through the town famous for its traditional tie-dye Arimatsu shibori cotton fabrics.
The JR Towers at Nagoya Station and the Takashimaya Department Store are illuminated with thousands of lights
Other Festivals In Japan
Ako Festival - Ako - December
Coming of Age Day - Nationwide - January
Daimonji Festival - Kyoto - August
Danjiri Festival - Kishiwada - September
Gion Matsuri - Kyoto - July
Hamamatsu Festival - Hamamatsu - May
Hina Matsuri - Nationwide - March
Sapporo Snow Festival - Sapporo - February
Shichigosan Festival - Nationwide - November
Summer Music Festivals in Japan - Fuji Rock, Summer Sonic
Tanabata Festival - Nationwide - July
DISCLAIMER Festivals may be cancelled or postponed without much warning. Check with your local tourist office for confirmation.
Nagoya Festival Video