5 SUPER SPRING Festivals in Shizuoka
As the weather starts to get warmer in Japan local residents of Shizuoka awaken from their Winter slumber and enjoy a number of Spring Festivals to celebrate.
5 Super Spring Festivals in Shizuoka
EVERY STATION ON THE TOKAIDO BULLET TRAIN LINE PROVIDES ACCESS TO DIFFERENT FESTIVALS IN SHIZUOKA.
Spring is a time of rebirth and renewal as the weather starts to warm, flowers begin to blossom and many wake from their winter hibernation.
Rice paddy fields start to fill with water, the grass turns from brown to green and the sound of frogs and cicada get louder.
To celebrate this time there are numerous festivals around Japan designed to bring good fortune and bless the crops that are to be planted – here are 5 Super Spring Festivals worth checking out –
1. FUJINOMIYA HORSEBACK ARCHERY FESTIVAL – SHIN FUJI STATION
The ancient practice of horseback archery dates as far back as the 10th century in Japan when warriors would compete against each other in a way that is reminiscent of ancient jousting duels between knights in medieval England.
The ritual of ‘Yabusame’ evolved from this as a way to encourage the gods to bless the land, people, and new harvest.
This ritual continues at Mt Fuji Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine in Fujinoiya with a festival taking place each year over 3 days during the Golden Week Holiday (May 4 – 6th).
2. HAMAMATSU KITE FESTIVAL – HAMAMATSU STATION
Also taking place during Golden Week each year (May 3rd – 5th) is the famous Hamamatsu Festival.
Shizuoka has many different festivals each year throughout the Prefecture but the Hamamatsu Festival is possibly the largest of them all.
The festival is primarily held to pray for the health and good fortune of children (Children’s day is May 5th) and is said to have been first held in 1558 when, to celebrate the birth of his first son, advisers of the lord of Hamamatsu castle flew kites with the child’s name on them.
During the day people flock out to the Hamamatsu Sand Dunes to witness groups battling against each other with huge kites.
When the sun goes down the festival moves into downtown Hamamatsu City where large colorful floats are pulled through the streets to the accompaniment of drums and flutes.
But it is once the procession of floats is done, the sake starts to flow and the party really gets started.
The tired, sore, sunburnt but happy Hamamatsu locals and visitors keep the party going until the early hours of the morning – then get up and do it all over again the next day.
3. SHIMODA BLACK SHIP FESTIVAL – ATAMI STATION
Celebrating American Japanese relations over close to 170 years since Commodore Perry first entered the port of Shimoda in 1854.
After Commodore Perry forced the Japanese government to open its borders to trade the first American consulate was established in Shimoda from which diplomat Townsend Harris was based while negotiating the terms of the first Japan / US bilateral trade agreement.
To celebrate the significance of this time in Japanese and US political history the Shimoda Black Ship Festival is held over 3 days from the 3rd Friday of May each year.
The festival traditionally kicks off with a fireworks display and sunset concert on Friday night and also includes a number of parades, an open market, a re-enactment play, and a Japan-US raft race in Shimoda harbor – Learn More.
4. SHIZUOKA CITY FESTIVAL – SHIZUOKA STATION
As the home of Japan’s most famous Samurai and Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu it is not surprising that Shizuoka City developed some of the Prefectures most elaborate festivals.
Held in conjunction with the blossoming of the cherry blossoms on the first weekend of April this 3 day celebration of Spring includes parades and dancing with a number of ‘yatai’ or temporary outdoor eateries set up around the town.
The Spring Shizuoka City festival also has a Spanish flavor – which is said to acknowledge the connection between Tokugawa Ieyasu with Spain – so flamenco dancers and paella also play a large role in the Festival.
5. KANAYA TEA FESTIVAL – KAKEGAWA STATION
The Kanaya / Shimada Area of Shizuoka is situated right in the middle of some of the highest producing tea plantations in all of Japan so it is not surprising that it would hold a Green Tea Festival.
The Kanaya Tea Festival is held every 2 years on the 2nd weekend in April which coincides with the first picking of the new green tea leaves (known as Sen-Cha).
This Green Tea flavored festival includes green tea-themed food stalls, green tea picking and preparation demonstrations, traditional floats with music, and over 1,000 Kanaya Tea Girl dancers dressed in Kanaya Tea Girl costumes parading through the streets singing the “official” Kanaya Tea Girl song – Learn More.