7 Winter Festivals in Japan!
Introducing festivals and traditional unique customs in winter.

In Japan, December to February is considered to be winter, which is a very cold season. Winter is the season when new year's eve and New Year's Day are reflected in the year and the determination is renewed. It is also the time when many traditional customs remain in the year.
Because of the tradition of purifying themselves in the cold and training themselves, winter festivals are often resistant to the cold.
Why don't you experience the festivals of various parts of Japan during the season when you can feel the essence of such a festival?

It is a season full of unique festivals where you can dare to get Half-Naked at the coldest time, go to a cold place, or enjoy nature and art that shine beautifully in the cold sky. Please enjoy the winter in Japan by experiencing only this time of year.

Saidaiji Eyo

One of the representative festivals among the many called Hadaka Matsuri (Naked Festival) in Japan. In the freezing cold, 10,000 naked men clash and compete for "Shingi" (two sacred sticks of wood which is a symbol of hope and luck).
A festival is a Buddhist event that has been going on for 500 years and will be held at the end of the New Year when Buddhist monks complete their training "Shujikai", which prays for the peace of society and the happiness of the people.
The highlight is a fierce battle for Shingi by naked men "Fuku Otoko" (lucky men). Fuku Otoko is open to participation.
You can buy your needs from the sales points in the event area. Also, women can participate in the "Onna-Eyo", which they can purify themselves in the water in a white dress.
From those who want to see what's called the Naked Festival to the pride of physical strength to challenge the limits, there's no doubt that you'll have an exciting experience.

Details

Name Saidaiji Eyo
Web Sites http://www.okayama-cci.or.jp/activation/saidaijieyo_en.html
Location of the Event Saidaji Temple, Higashi-ku, Okayama-shi, Okayama
Access Approximately 60 minutes by bus and JR Ako Line from Okayama Airport (From Haneda Airport to Okayama Airport: 1 hour 15 minutes)
Inquiries TEL: 086-942-0101 (Secretariat of Saidaiji Temple)
Period of the Event Middle of February
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese Yes
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese Yes
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival

If you want to stay in Japan in winter, why not experience the extremely cold world? Hokkaido, located in the northern part of Japan, has the Sounkyo Icefall Festival, where you can experience the extreme cold of minus 20.
The icefall is that the water falling from the waterfall freezes in the cold. Here, buildings and caves built of ice are lit up to enjoy a fantastic atmosphere.
The colorful lighting reflects on the ice is breathtaking beauty. If you see a scene that can only be seen in the frigid weather, you will find it worthwhile enduring the freezing cold.
Experience type events are full of enjoying. You can try ice climbing or tube sliders or drink at the ice bar counter.

Details

Name Sounkyo Ice Fall Festival
Web Sites http://www.sounkyo.net/hyoubaku/en/
Location of the Event Sounkyo, Kamikawa-cho, Kamikawa-gun, Hokkaido
Access 3 hours 30 minutes by JR Ishikita Main Line and bus from Asahikawa Airport (From Haneda Airport to Asahikawa Airport: 1 hour 40 minutes)
Inquiries TEL: 01658-5-3350 (Sounkyo Tourism Association)
Period of the Event Late of January to middle of March
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese Yes
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese Yes
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

©Matsue Travel Association

Matsue Sumitsuke Tondo (Ink Marking Festival)

There are various dirty festivals such as Holi in India and the Tomato Festival in Spain, but of course, there are also in Japan!One of them is this "Matsue Ink Marking Festival". Housewives of each house take out black ink, mark someone’s face by ink.
Tondo is an event that burns Matsukazari (New Year's pine decorations) and burns the beginning of year's calligraphy works. Originally that was coal powder from kitchen stove or ashes mixed with alcohol or just water but now to mark the face of participant they use a kind of ink.
The fun of this festival is the fuss of painting face by ink. It is said that ink has the meaning of amulet, when people are inked, no catch a cold for one year, and no encounter the sea difficulty.
Mihoseki is a district deeply related to old Japanese mythology. It is recommended not only for people who like a dirty festival, but also for the person who wants to experience the custom of the region mixed with local people, and the person who wants to know the original scenery of Japan based on the myth.

Details

Name Matsue Sumitsuke Tondo (Ink Marking Festival)
Web Sites https://www.visit-matsue.com/
Location of the Event Katae Jinja Shrine, Katae, Mihonoseki-cho, Yatsuka-gun, Shimane
Access Approximately 2 hours by JR Sakaiminato Line and bus from Yonago Kitaro Airport (From Haneda Airport to Yonago Kitaro Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes)
Inquiries 0852-73-9001 (Matsue Tourism Association, Mihonoseki Town Bracnh)
Period of the Event Early of January
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese Yes
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese Yes
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

Aoshima Naked Man Festival

The Naked Festival in Aoshima Shrine are held on the beach next to the Aoshima Shrine, over 400 old and young men and women gather at the beach with a “fundoshi” (loincloth). People will do Misogi to cleanse mind and body and visit Aoshima Shrine.
This festival originated from ancient things when the god enshrined in the shrine returned from the place of the god of the sea. The people of the village who did not have time to wear clothes were hurried to greeting in a half naked because of the sudden return.
This naked festival in Miyazaki has a bright atmosphere. The participants ran along the coast and entered the sea. People bathed in the water like as the ice bucket challenge this time. Even the weather is warm, the water still cold and the participants make a big fuss. If you fuss together, you will also be able to feel a sense of unity.
In Japan, there is a word of naked relationship, which means true pure relationship without lying. Why don't you join and feel the unity of people from local and from other regions and countries?

Details

Name Aoshima Naked Man Festival
Web Sites (In Japanese) https://www.city.miyazaki.miyazaki.jp/culture/events/89166.html
Location of the Event Aoshima Shrine, Miyazaki-shi, Miyazaki
Access 25 minutes' bus ride from Miyazaki Airport (From Haneda Airport to Miyazaki Airport: 1 hour 40 minutes)
Inquiries 0985-65-1231 (Aoshima Regional Center)
Period of the Event Middle of January
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English No, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English No, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

©Kokuseki Temple

Somin-sai Festival

This festival is held at the Kokuseki Temple, severe cold snow on the night which hits the seventh day of the lunar new year. There is Misogi that purifies the mind and body and participates wear only Fundoshi (loincloth).
The origin of this festival is an anecdote in which a poor but kind-hearted man treats God with humans as a gift. The man's name is "Somin", and it is a festival in which "Somin-Bukuro" contains komagi (small wooden charms with hexagon shapes) which are contested by male offspring.
Participants must refuse meat, fish, and drinking from one week before the festival. On the day of the event, participants will be cleansed by the frigid river, climbing the piled-up pine trees and purifying themselves by the sparks, and participating in a three-hour battle for the Sumin-Bukuro.
This ritual, which takes place in the sub-zero and cold snow, leaves a sacred and primitive atmosphere. It is recommended for advanced people who want to touch the essence of a more stoic festival.

Details

Name Somin-sai Festival
Web Sites https://www.kokusekiji.jp/cont7/main.html
Location of the Event Kokuseki Temple, Oshu-shi, Iwate
Access Approximately 2 hours by bus, Tohoku Shinkansen, and Tohoku Main Line from Sendai Airport
Inquiries TEL: 0197-26-4168 (Kokuseki Temple)
Period of the Event Late of January to early of February
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese Yes
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese Yes
System for accepting inquiries for festival English Yes, Chinese No

Chichibu Night Festival

The Chichibu Night Festival is a gorgeous winter festival that is also registered in UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Register.
It originated from the silk-woven market of the city, which stood at Chichibu Shrine about 300 years ago, and it came to be held in a big festival every year to celebrate the economic development of this city.
The highlight is the luxurious silk covered floats. The floats are transformed into stages, and kabuki is also held on the floats. And when fireworks are launched in the clear winter sky, the festival celebrates the beauty of the floats and the winter sky.
If you would like to experience the gorgeous luxury floats and history of the town. Floats that are all made of wood, with the sound of wheels screeching, and candles instead of light bulbs. Those sounds, colors, smells, all make you feel like you've gone back in time. If you want to experience history, or if you are interested in Japanese beauty and crafts, this is a festival that you would like to see.

Details

Name Chichibu Night Festival
Web Sites http://www.chichibu-matsuri.jp/en/
Location of the Event Chichibu-shi, Saitama
Access Approximately 2 hours 45 minus by Monorail, JR, and Seibu Ikebukuro Line from Haneda Airport
Inquiries TEL: 0494-21-2277 (Chichibu Tourism Association)
Period of the Event December 2 to 3 (Same schedule every year)
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese Yes
System for accepting inquiries for festival English Yes, Chinese No

©Fukushima City

Mount Shinobu Dawn Procession

Waraji is a straw-woven sandal that has long been used in Japan. During the Mount Shinobu Dawn Procession, the huge waraji is carried up to Mount and dedicates it to Haguro Shrine.
This festival is the result of making a large straw sandal and dedicating Buddha statue enshrined at Haguro Shrine. From there, it became a festival to pray for good health, physical fitness, rich fertility, and family safety.
The highlight is 100 people carry a 12 meters length straw-sandal and climb the mountain. Visitors can't carry Waraji (straw-sandal), but anyone can accompany the journey to climb slowly while pulling a rope from the Waraji.
If you want to move more, it is recommended to participate in the Fuku-Otoko Fuku-Onna Race. The winners will be awarded prizes after competing on a 1.3km and 300m mountain path. Participates who take over the snowy mountain road. Also, because you can run slowly, even family members are OK. Whether you are an active athlete or a person who wants to pray for health, this is a festival you can enjoy.

Details

Name Mount Shinobu Dawn Procession
Web Sites https://fukushima-guide.jp/event/mt-shinobu-dawn-procession/
Location of the Event Haguro Shrine, Mount Shinobu, Fukushima-shi, Fukushima
Access Approximately 2 hours by bus and shinkansen from Fukushima Airport
Inquiries TEL: 024-525-3720 (Mount Shinobu Dawn Procession Committee)
Period of the Event February 10 to 11 (Same schedule every year)
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English No, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English No, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

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