All About Japan

5 Fun Festivals in Japan's National Parks

Festivals Great Outdoors Shoryudo Okinawa Hokkaido Mie Shizuoka Tottori Chubu Kansai Chugoku Tokai Region

The people of Japan have long lived in harmony with nature. The nation's national parks are not only sites of natural beauty, but long-inhabited locales where the local people have developed both new and longstanding traditions for showing their thanks to nature for its bounties. Here are five fun festivals you can catch in Japan's national parks!

'Big Catch Prayer Festival' (Hokkaido)

The Tairyo Kigan Sai (大漁祈願祭), literally "Big Catch Prayer Festival," is held on the Shiretoko Peninsula in the northeast corner of Hokkaido.

Shimoda Taiko Drum Festival (Shizuoka)

The Hachimangu Reitaisai, more commonly known as the Shimoda Taiko Drum Festival, is a summer festival marking the Obon season, when ancestral spirits are welcomed back into the home. Held across August 14 and 15, the festival goes on from morning to night in Shimoda City. 1. The sound of a large ‘taiko’ drum rumbles through the city streets, accompanied by raucous flutes and shamisen. 2. Little ‘mikoshi’ (portable shrines) are bound together with rope and raised up to form an arched bridge, or ‘taikobashi.’ #NationalPark #Festival #Shimoda #富士箱根伊豆国立公園 #nationalparks #nature #findyourpark #instafollow #japan #landscape #landscape_lovers #ourplanetdaily #landscapephotography #hiking #outdoors #traveling #travel #explore #日本 #國家公園 #일본 #국립공원

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Held from August 14 to 15 each year, the Hachimangu Reitaisai (八幡宮例大祭) is more commonly known as the Shimoda Taiko Drum Festival (下田太鼓祭り・Shimoda Taiko Matsuri).

Kumano Hayatama Festival (Mie)

The Kumano Hayatama Festival (熊野速玉祭・Kumano Hayatama Matsuri) is held every October 15 and 16. The event on the second day is also known as the Mifune Festival (御船祭・Mifune Matsuri), when traditional hayafune (早船) boats race to circle Mifune Island.

Mount Daisen Natsuyama Summer Festival (Tottori)

Each year in June, the arrival of summer at Mount Daisen is heralded by the Mount Daisen Natsuyama Summer Festival. On the night before the festival, 2,000 people carry torches of sacred flame from the Okumiya (rear shrine) of Ogamiyama Shrine along the longest stone-paved path in Japan, forming a river of fire down the mountainside. On the next day, a ritual is performed at the summit to pray for safety on the mountain. 2017 marked the 71st observation of this traditional event, the most festive day on the mountain each year! #NationalPark #Mountain #Tottori #Festival #大山隠岐国立公園 #nationalparks #nature #findyourpark #instafollow #japan #landscape #landscape_lovers #ourplanetdaily #landscapephotography #hiking #outdoors #traveling #travel #explore

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The Mount Daisen Natsuyama Summer Festival (大山夏山開き祭・Daisen Natsuyama Hiraki Matsuri) is held on the first Saturday and Sunday in June. It begins at the rear shrine, or Okumiya (奥宮), of Ogamiyama Shrine (大神山神社・Ogamiyama-jinja).

Umi-Ugan Festival (Okinawa)

Featuring Okinawa's signature Eisa (エイサー) dance, the Umi-Ugan (海御願), also known as the Kaijin-sai (海神祭), is held on Zamami Island (座間味島・Zamami-jima) in the middle of August in the old lunar calendar.

While Japan's annual schedule is filled with festivals, each one is unique in its own way. If you're in the area at the right time of year, a local festival is an event not to be missed!