Only in Japan! Seven Historic Festivals You Can Parade in Wearing Armor

 
 

History, samurai and cosplay enthusiasts, come and travel back in time to the world of samurai!

 

In the Edo period, which began in 1603, the daimyo feudal lords from all around Japan had a ceremonial obligation to travel to the capital Edo (present-day Tokyo) in alternate years in a grand procession with many samurai warriors. The processions, called daimyo gyoretsu, were quite extravagant to exhibit the daimyo's authority, and the spectacle is brought back to life in many festivals around Japan.

Historic festival parades are held in commemoration of the beloved local heroes of various regions. Dressing up like the people of these times and being on the actual grounds will help you gain a deeper understanding of Japanese history. Donning period costumes and seeing a procession of hundreds of samurais are unique activities that can only be experienced at these historic sites. Be sure to venture to these festivals and make many unforgettable memories!

©Hagi City

Hagi Jidai Festival

In the historic town of Hagi, the procession of the Daimyo feudal lord offering samurai armor to a shrine that started in the 1700s comes back to life as the main event of the Hagi Jidai Festival. The Hagi Jidai Parade features a total of 200 samurai, princesses, castle lords and various other characters related to the castle dressed in period costumes to take the spectators back in time to the world of samurai. Anyone can participate in this festival. Just register on the website above and meet at the designated spot to rent your costume and join the parade. There are also numerous performances held across town including rare traditional stages like the Choshu Ipponyari, a dazzling performance handling a 5.5-meter spear.

Details

Name Hagi Jidai Festival
Web Sites (In Japanese) http://www.hagishi.com/search/detail.php?d=900036
Location of the Event Hagi Castle and other areas around Hagi-shi, Yamaguchi
Access Approximately 1 hour 10 minutes' ride on shared taxi from Hagi Iwami Airport (From Haneda Airport to Hagi Iwami Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes)
Inquiries TEL: 0838-25-1750 (Hagi Tourist Bureau)
Period of the Event Second Sunday of November
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English No, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

©Matsue Musha Gyoretsu Executive committee

Matsue Warrior Procession

The Matsue Warrior Procession recreates the scene in which Yoshiharu Horio, the founder of Matsue Castle, and his retainers march into the castle that is now a national treasure. Around 200 samurai and princesses parade through the town in the midst of the beautiful cherry blossom season, reacting Matsue's prosperity 400 years ago. The highlight of the procession is the famous speech by Yoshiharu and his men's kachidoki (the high-spirited victory cry of the samurai). If you can participate in the practice sessions held one month before the festival, you can join the parade as well.

Details

Name Matsue Warrior Procession
Web Sites (In Japanese) https://www.musha-gyoretsu.jp/
Location of the Event Front of Shirakata Tenmangu Shrine to Matsue Castle in Matsue-shi, Shimane
Access Approximately 50 minutes' bus ride from Yonago Kitaro Airport (From Haneda Airport to Yonago Kitaro Airport: 1 hour 20 minutes)
Inquiries TEL: 0852-27-5843 (Matsue Musha Gyoretsu Executive Committee)
Period of the Event First Saturday of April
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

©Shizuokamatsuri Photo

Shizuoka Festival

One of the most well-known figures in Japanese history, Ieyasu Tokugawa brought an end to the Warring States period and established the Edo (present-day Tokyo) government in 1603 that continued an era of peace and rich culture for over 250 years. He lived for a long period in Sunpu Castle, located in Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture. Following the legend that Ieyasu had gone cherry blossom viewing with his retainers in Sunpu, the Shizuoka Festival began in 1957 as a history-themed festival. The historic parade is narratedin five stories and is quite spectacular. Of course you can pre-register to participate. In addition, there are hand-held firecrackers and a fireworks display to make the festival truly worthy for a Shogun commander. Enjoy the historic festival while also marveling at the beautiful cherry blossoms.

Details

Name Shizuoka Festival
Web Sites (In Japanese) https://www.shizuokamatsuri.com/
Location of the Event Inside Sunpu Castle Park in Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka
Access Approximately 50 minutes' bus ride from Mt. Fuji Shizuoka Airport
Inquiries TEL: 054-221-0182 (Shizuoka Festival Executive Committee)
Period of the Event Early April
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 No, Chinese No

©Joetsu City

Lord Kenshin Festival

Every region in Japan has their beloved local heroes. For Niigata, the hero is Kenshin Uesugi, the lord of Echigo province in the mid-1500s who was known as a noble and righteous hero of the Warring States period. The Lord Kenshin Festival is based on the anecdote that once every year, Lord Kenshin would invite the commoners into Kasugayama Castle and show his appreciation for their hard work. The festival has been strongly supported by local residents for many years, and even continued throughout WWII without stopping. Its highlight is the reenactment of the Battle of Kawanakajima, a legendary event in which Kenshin bravely fought many battles. With the help of a guide tourists can also join the battle’s reenactment and experience the authentic world of samurai in this popular festival.

Details

Name Lord Kenshin Festival
Web Sites https://joetsukankonavi.jp/pages-en/kenshinkousai/
Location of the Event Around Kasugayama Castle in Joetsu-shi, Niigata
Access Approximately 3 hours' bus ride from Niigata Airport
Inquiries TEL: 025-526-5111 (Joetsu-shi Tourism Promotion Division)
Period of the Event Early April
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English No, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English No, Chinese No

Sendai Aoba Festival

Lord Masamune Date is the historic hero of Sendai, the largest city in the Tohoku region. Called Dokuganryu (one-eyed dragon) after losing his eyesight in one eye while still young, Lord Masamune was known as an enthusiast of fashion and culture, and is one of the most beloved war lords in Japanese history. The Sendai Aoba Festival is a local festival commemorating Lord Masamune The highlight of the festival isan amazing historic parade of various groups such as armored warriors, processions of portable shrines and costumed children heading toward Aoba Shrine where Lord Masamune is enshrined. The performers are followed by a succession of 11 lavishly decorated floats. Visitors can also participate in the continuous parade with prior registration. The festival also offers great dining in honor of Masamune, who was also famous as a connoisseur of good food. For anyone who enjoys a historical procession , or for those who wants to be in one, this is the perfect festival. Watch, listen, dance, eat, and enjoy the spectacle!

Details

Name Sendai Aoba Festival
Web Sites https://sendai-travel.jp/activities/aoba-festival/
Location of the Event Center of Aoba-ku, Sendai-shi, Miyagi
Access Approximately 30 minutes by Sendai Airport Access Line from Sendai Airport
Inquiries TEL: 022-223-8441 (Sendai Aoba Festival Co-sponsoring Committee)
Period of the Event Third Sunday of May
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese Yes
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English Yes, Chinese Yes

©Sekigahara Town

Battle of Sekigahara Festival

The years of the 15th century to 16th century in Japan are known as the Warring States period, with numerous battles fought across the country. One of the most significant battles during this time was the Battle of Sekigahara. This battle is often referred to as the Battle for the Sundered Realm to signal the ending of the civil war, and took place in Sekigahara, Gifu Prefecture. The Battle of Sekigahara Festival recreates this landmark event and attracts many history fans with authentic reenactments of combat scenes focusing on historic accuracy rather than flair. By prior registration online, visitors can also participate in this event. Every year, the festival focuses on different war lords to tell the story from different perspectives, which is why many fans come back year after year. Feel like a period actor by jumping into the battle scene filled with an authentic recreation of combat and historic drama, and travel back in time to the days when the history of Japan took an important turn.

Details

Name Battle of Sekigahara Festival
Web Sites http://www.kanko-sekigahara.jp/event/
Location of the Event Areas surrounding the Sekigahara Fureai Center and Mount Sasao in Sekigahara-cho, Fuwa-gun, Gifu
Access From Chubu Centrair International Airport, approximately 2 hours taking the Meitetsu Airport Line and JR Tokaido Main Line (From Haneda Airport to Chubu Centrair International Airport: 1 hour)
Inquiries TEL: 0584-43-1600 (Sekigahara Tourism Association)
Period of the Event Mid-October
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

©Yamanashi Tourism Organization

Shingen-ko Festival

If you are looking for a large-scale samurai parade, the Shingen-ko Festival is a must-see with around 1,600 warriors participating, making it the largest historical parade in Japan. Held to commemorate the warlord Shingen Takeda, who ruled the area in Yamanashi Prefecture, the festival is celebrated annually around the day of his death on April 12. The samurai parade re-creates his departure to the famous Battle of Kawanakajima. On the day of the festival, various contingents of over 1,000 participants from across the prefecture convene at Maizuru Castle Park and reenact the departure toward Kawanakajima. Lord Shingen is played by a well-known actor every year, and a procession of women in historic costumes add to the festive mood. The group contingents are mostly comprised of townspeople and companies, but some welcome tourists as well. Both seeing and taking part in this grand parade is sure to be an incredible experience.

Details

Name Shingen-ko Festival
Web Sites https://www.yamanashi-kankou.jp/shingen/english/about.html
Location of the Event Center of Kofu-shi, Yamanashi
Access Approximately 3 hours 30 minutes by highway bus from Haneda Airport
Inquiries TEL: 055-231-2722 (Shingen-ko Festival Executive Planning Committee)
Period of the Event Mid-April
Multi-lingual staff at the venue English Yes, Chinese No
Flyers in multiple languages English Yes, Chinese No
System for accepting inquiries for festival English Yes, Chinese Yes

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