Spring is just around the corner! Do you already have plans to enjoy the Spring season in Japan? How about going to a spring matsuri?
Japan is famous for its festivals or matsuri (祭り), celebrated all year round, and this includes spring festivals, which you shouldn’t miss out on! Not only do you get to have fun the Japanese way, but you can also learn about the culture and try foods traditionally sold during festivals.
Wondering what matsuri you can visit in Spring? Worry not; we have listed five must-visit spring matsuri around Japan!
Jindaiji Daruma Doll Fair
Are you familiar with the Daruma doll? Daruma (達磨) is a round red Japanese doll painted with the face of a bearded man meant to portray the Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen school of Buddhism. This doll is considered as the symbol of perseverance and good luck.
The Jindaiji Daru Doll Fair is an exciting festival that is held in early March at the Jindaiji Temple in Chofu, Tokyo. This fair is one of the Three Great Daruma Fairs in Japan and has been going on since the Edo Period. This is a great stop for you to gather good luck for the springtime!
Hirosaki Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Matsuri
Your Spring in Japan wouldn’t be complete without marveling at the beauty of the blooming cherry blossoms. While you can pretty much see them everywhere throughout the country, the Hirosaki Cherry Blossom (Sakura) Matsuri is one festival that you should definitely check out!
Held at the Hirosaki Castle Park (弘前公園), this matsuri is the largest cherry blossom festival in Japan. You can see more than 2,600 trees and about 50 sakura species in this castle park located in Hirosaki City, Aomori Prefecture. The main attraction of this matsuri is the beautiful 300-meter cherry blossom tunnel, especially at night when it lit up.
You can rent out goza (Japanese carpet made of grasses) or join the wafune traditional boat tour to have a proper traditional hanami (flower viewing) experience. Not only can you treat yourself to the sight of the beautiful cherry blossoms, but you can also make your tastebuds dance with the delicious treats you can get at the stalls there! This matsuri is usually held around late April to early May.
Naha Harii Festival
Not only can matsuri be found on the main islands of Japan but also in Okinawa prefecture–the southernmost and westernmost region of Japan. One matsuri that you can visit is the Naha Harii (那覇ハーリー) Festival held to celebrate the coming of Spring. This festival is usually held for three days during Golden Week at the Naha Shinko (Naha New Port) Pier.
The word Harii (ハーリー) means “the race of dragon boats.” You can watch local Okinawans showing off their skills to win the race using a beautiful traditional dragon ship. Not only that, but you can also see different kinds of performances, including live concerts, Eisa (Okinawa’s traditional folk dance), and fireworks! If you are curious about the dragon boat, you can hop on one and experience the dragon boat riding!
Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri
If you are an Onsen enthusiast, this matsuri is definitely something that you should check out. As the name suggests, Beppu Hattou Onsen Matsuri (別府八湯温泉まつり) is a festival held in Beppu City, Oita Prefecture in which around 100 communal or shared Onsen or hot springs in Beppu City are open for free!
This matsuri is celebrated as an appreciation for Beppu’s rich hot springs. Fun fact: Beppu has the largest amount of hot spring water in the world! You can also see drums, a traditional dance stage, parades, and the flames from the Ogiyama Fire Festival nearby. The highlight of this matsuri is the “Hot Water Bukkake Festival” in the Beppu Ekimae Odori.
During this matsuri, the portable shrines (mikoshi 神輿) of the hot spring shrines and mikoshi from the surrounding areas gather, and tons of hot water is thrown towards the gathered mikoshi. This matsuri is usually held around the first week of April.
Otaue Shinji Rice Planting Festival
If you are looking for a matsuri that you can’t see in metropolitan parts of Japan, the Otaue Shinji Rice Planting Festival in Osaka is the one for you! The word Otaue (御田植え) means rice planting, something that is very important for the Japanese people, as rice is the staple food across Japan.
While this matsuri is held across Japan, the Otaue Shinji Rice Planting Matsuri is famous for its large scale nationwide. This matsuri takes place at the Sumiyoshi Taisha Shrine on June 14th every year. During the matsuri, the ritual procession proceeds across a rice field stage where the women dancers perform the “Yaotomemai” dance in kimono, and the men carry out samurai rituals in armor.
Although this isn’t a Spring matsuri, it welcomes new beginnings and the start of a fresh cycle like most Spring festivals.
Which Spring Matsuri In Japan Would You Like To Visit?
There are so many things to do in Japan throughout the springtime. Not only can you visit lots of great places and eat good food, you can also experience the Japanese culture through the spring matsuri that is being held in every city. Spring matsuri are definitely something you shouldn’t miss out on!
Out of these five spring matsuri, which one would you like to visit?
Find out more about what to do during springtime in Japan!
- Ways To Experience A Memorable White Day In Japan
- Kawazu Sakura: Early-Blooming Cherry Blossom
- 5 Hinamatsuri Foods That Bring Good Luck
- Best Spots to See Plum Blossoms in Japan
Feature picture credit: Canva