5 FAMOUS AUTUMN FESTIVALS IN SHIZUOKA
Centuries old festivals can be seen throughout Shizuoka in Autumn – designed to celebrate a successful harvest.
SHIZUOKA AUTUMN FESTIVALS TO EXPERIENCE
Japanese people love festivals – from fireworks and dancing in Summer, cherry blossom festivals to celebrate Spring and new beginnings through to Winter fire festivals there is a festival for every season and every occasion.
In the Autumn months many of the festivals in Shizuoka are centered around a celebration of a bountiful harvest and prayers for future crops.
Japanese festivals have evolved to become a way for local communities to come together and strengthen local bonds and relationships.
1. AKIHA SHRINE FIRE FESTIVAL – Hamamatsu Station
On December 15th and 16th every year the Hongu Akiha Shrine in the Tenryu Area of Hamamatsu celebrates the Fire Festival on Mt Akiha.
A festival that dates back to the 8th Century Nara Period to pray for a bountiful harvest in the coming year.
The mountainous area around Tenryu is susceptible to forest fire and the priests of the temple perform dances with fire, sword and bow to show respect to fire and purge sin and impurity.
2. KAKEGAWA LION FESTIVAL – Kakegawa Station
The Enshu area of Shizuoka (Hamamatsu & Kakegawa areas) is famous for its use of ‘Yatai’ floats which are, in essence, elaborately decorated portable shrines with wheels that are pulled through the town.
On the 2nd Saturday and Sunday of October the Kakegawa Omatsuri sees many of the locals pulling Yatai floats through this lovely castle town.
Once every 3 years a giant 25 meter long lion that weighs 220kg is carried by hundreds of people dancing through the town.
It is due to make another appearance in October 2021.
3. SHIMADA OBI FESTIVAL – Shizuoka Station
The Shimada Obi Festival only happens every 3 years in October – with the next one scheduled for 2022.
The festival, which has been held since 1696, consists of a procession of decorative floats, drummers, dancers and many others wearing traditional robes and carrying elaborate obi (traditional sash belts worn with kimono).
The participants of the festival pray for safe childbirth for those in attendance.
4. FUJIEDA KAGURA SHINTO FESTIVAL – Shizuoka Station
Another Shizuoka festival that only held every 3 years is the Fujieda Grand Festival at Akunami Shrine in Fujieda.
The next festival is also scheduled for October 2022.
The Fujieda festival is similar to the others in the area but in addition to the normal floats the Fujieda Festival prides itself on its “Naga Uta” and dance procession.
The Naga Uta translate directly as ‘long song’ and is traditionally associated with Kabuki theatre and includes dancing accompanied with shamisen and drums.
5. FUJINOMIYA FESTIVAL – Shin Fuji Station
People have been flocking to Fujinomiya for centuries to pay homage to Mt Fuji and throughout the year there are a number of festivals held with the majestic mountain as a backdrop.
The Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine which is found in the center of Fujinomiya Town, is the head shrine of about 1,300 Sengen shrines located throughout Japan.
To show respect to Mt Fuji and appreciation for an Autumn harvest the locals parade elaborately decorated floats through town and compete to make the most noise and get as close as possible to collide with each other.