5 Must-Visit October festivals in Japan | Guidable - Your Guide to a Sustainable, Wellbeing-centred Life in Japan

5 Must-Visit October festivals in Japan

By Guidable Writers Aug 10, 2017

This post is also available in: Vietnamese



If you’re thinking of taking an Autumn excursion, here are 5 festivals that you definitely need to visit in Japan. In this article I will recommend the Zuiki Festival, Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival, Sawara Festival, Arimatsu Shibori Festival and Warai Festival. This is a good opportunity to learn more about the festivals taking place in October, so that you will be able to enjoy your holiday even after summer vacation has ended!


Zuiki Festival


Zuiki Festival began in 947 AD, and is held at Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. Enshrined in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine is Sugawara Michizane, who was a legendary scholar during the Heian Era. Zuiki Festival is a celebrated with Mikoshi for the purpose of praising the bumper crops of the year.

This festival stems from the ritual of offering the new crops, vegetables and fruits before the altar. The parade starts off with the three Horen (imperial carriages) and Matsu-hoko (spears) leaving the shrine. 350 priests and shrine parishioners parade around the Shrine area. At the beginning of the festival and on the last day of the festival, a dance called Yaotomemai will be performed by primary school girls in the local area. The parade is held on October 4th, and the whole festival is 5 days long.


Nihonmatsu Lantern festival


Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival is an annual festival which takes place in Fukushima Prefecture from the 4th to the 6th of October. The festival has a long history of over 300 years, and it is one of the largest lantern festivals in Japan.


In the morning, the priest will give a blessing and say prayers at the local shrine, and then light the fire with sacred flame. In the evening you will see the large floats that are up to 8 meters high, and 300 lanterns connected together. The festival attracts 64,000 people from the local area, along with many tourists from abroad!


Sawara Festival


Sawara Festival is one of the major float festivals in the Kanto region. It has a long history, dating back more than 300 years. The festival is celebrated twice a year, once in July and once in October. The giant floats will parade around the town to traditional Japanese music called ‘Sawara Bayashi’.


Sawara Festival takes place in Katori City, which is located in the northeastern part of Chiba Prefecture. Therefore the festival can easily be accessed from Shinjuku Station; you merely need to take the JR Sobu Line to Chiba Station, transfer to the JR Narita Line, and then get off at Sawara Station.


Arimatsu Shibori Festival


Arimatsu is a kind of Japanese tie dye, made more beautiful by it’s various patterns created through special binding, stitching, folding and twisting techniques. Arimatsu Village is famous for its quality of its Shibori fabrics. Arimatsu Festival is held every year, and is a widely-known celebration. In the Arimatsu Festival, there are three festive floats. One is called Hotei-Sha Float, another is the Karako-Sha Float and the third is called Jingu-Kogo-Sha Float. These three floats are regarded by the Nagoya municipal office as ‘Cultural Treasures of the People’. They all have extensive histories.


Warai Festival


Warai (laughter) festival takes place at Niu Shrine in the Hidaka district of Wakayama Prefecture. If you are heading to Wakayama you should visit this festival because this is a prefecture cultural heritage asset, and can be traced back several centuries. The origin of this festival comes from the legend of Niutsuhime-no-kimoto goddess. According to the legend, a god overslept and was late for the meeting of gods. She was teased and locked herself in the shrine. In order to cheer her up, the villagers began to gather around the shrine and laugh together. Nowadays, the leader of the festival dresses up as a clown and leads the people to the Niu Shrine. People will perform the Lion Dance, raise mikoshi, pound Japanese drums and balance bamboo banners. It is truly a fun-filled festival, as it is a celebration for people to dance, drink and be merry.


This festival is just one of the many festivals that have a unique legend and story behind them! If you want to check out more intriguing festivals, see some of our other pages!


This festival is on the second Sunday of October. It starts in the morning at around 11:00 a.m., and continues until 5:00 p.m.


All of these 5 festivals have a long history. If you want to enjoy your time in Japan, these festivals are must-go’s that you seriously need to visit! If you need further information, leave a comment on our page and we’ll get back to you. I hope you can make these famous festivals a fun part of your Japanese experience, and that you enjoy a fantastic vacation!