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■ Blast in Japan Summer 2006

Festivals and Fireworks in Chubu Region
– August Edition –

○Tuesday August 1st – Thursday August 3rd <Nagaoka Festival>

The origin of this festival dates back to the years right after WWII ended, when it started with the purpose of rebuilding Nagaoka, a city devastated by the bomb on August 1st 1945. During the festival there will be performances of traditional folk dancing and singing as well as drums. The main highlight of the festival, however, will be the fireworks display which will be carried out at the Shinanogawa riverbeds. During August 2nd and 3rd, a total of about 20,000 fireworks will decorate the sky including the Sei-Sanshakudama (shell diameter: approx 3ft) and the Pheonix.


[Date] August 1-3, 2006
[Hours] 8/1 (Tue)... 17:40 – 22:00 *Paper Lantern Floating... 19:00–
8/2 (Wed)... 11:30 – 15:30
8/3 (Thu)... 11:30 – 15:30
[Location] Nagaoka City Ohte-dori area, fireworks: Choseibashi Bridge lower stream,
Shinanogawa Riverbeds)
Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture
[Access] 20-min-walk from JR Nagaoka Station
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0258-39-2221 (Nagaoka Matsuri Council)
[URL] http://www.echigo.ne.jp/~naga-con/2006fureaihiroba.html
(Nagaoka Tourism and Convention Association official web site, Japanese)



○Tuesday August 1st – Monday August 7th <Takaoka Tanabata Festival>

Being the summer feature with the largest scale and longest tradition all across the coastline of Japan Sea, Takaoka Tanabata Festival brings amusement to the visitors with its overwhelming 25-meter Jumbo Tanabata and about 1,000 Tanabata of all sizes decorating the street. Events such as Tanabata City Parade, Tanabata Kawanagashi Festival and Minyo-odori Machinagashi will be held throughout the week, and this year there will be exhibitions of the citizens’ handmade Tanabata and andon (lanterns).


[Date] August 1-7, 2006
[Hours] To be announced on web site below
[Location] Takaoka City center
Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from JR Takaoka Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0766-20-0555 (Suehiro Kaihatsu)
[URL] http://www.city.takaoka.toyama.jp/sangyo/0402/event/tanabata/tanabata-top.htm
(Takaoka City Web Site, Japanese)



○Saturday August 5th <Issaki Houtou Matsuri>

There are many kiriko* festivals held in Noto region over the summer, yet this is the largest in scale and most gorgeous of all, with about 100 men among men dance wildly along the music, drum beats and gongs while they carry the 2-ton-grand houtou (=kiriko) ranging from 13–15 meters long. The houtou are lit at night, allowing people to appreciate an illusionary kind of beauty also with fireworks shooting background.

*gigantic lamps made of wood and paper are called kiriko, and kiriko festival is one which people (mostly men) carry kiriko around town along with the mikoshi (portable shrine) all night.


[Date] August 5, 2006
[Hours] Please inquire the number below.

Yawata Shrine
Issakicho, Nanao City, Ishikawa Prefecture

[Access] 10-min-walk from JR Wakura-Onsen Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0767-53-8424 (Nanao City Tourism Bureau)
[URL] http://www.hot-ishikawa.jp/page/kiriko/10isisaki.html
(Tourism Bureau Ishikawa Prefecture Government official web site, Japanese)
(Tourism Bureau Ishikawa Prefecture Government, English...N.B. no English info
on this particular festival)


Including the Issaki Houtou Festival, there are a number of kiriko festivals held in the Noto region this time of year. Below are information on some other kiriko festivals.

<Noto Region Kiriko Festival Schedule>

[Event] Horyu Tanabata Kiriko Festival
[Date] Monday August 7th
[Location] Horyumachi, Suzu City
[Tel] 0768-82-7776

[Event] Shingu Cooling Festival
[Date] Monday August 14th
[Location] Fujise, Nanao City
[Tel] 0767-32-9341

[Event] Saikai Festival
[Date] Monday August 14
[Location] Futo & Kazanashi, Shiga Town
[Tel] –

[Event] Sosogi Grand Festival
[Date] Thursday August 17
[Location] Sosogi Kaigan, Wajima City
[Tel] 0768-32-0408

[Event] Okinami Tairyo Festival
[Date] Thursday August 17 – Friday August 18
[Location] Okinami area, Anamizu Town
[Tel] 0768-57-1501

[Event] Gozare Festival
[Date] Saturday August 19
[Location] Noto Town (Shokubutsu Koen; Botanical Park)
[Tel] 0768-72-2505

[Event] Tsurugiji Hachiman Shrine Grand Festival (Osayo Festival)
[Date] Monday August 21 – Tuesday August 22
[Location] Monzen, Wajima City
[Tel] 0768-42-8721

[Event] Wajima Grand Festival
[Date] Tuesday August 22 – Friday August 25
[Location] Wajima City center
[Tel] 0768-22-6588

[Event] Niwaka Festival
[Date] Thursday August 24
[Location] Ukawa area, Noto Town
[Tel] 0768-72-2505

[Event] Fukuiku Hassaku Festival
[Date] Saturday August 26 – Sunday August 27
[Location] Ryokemachi – Yawata, Shiga Town
[Tel] 0767-32-3933



○Monday August 7th – Tuesday August 8th <Uozu Tatemon Matsuri>

Stout men ebulliently pull around the tatemon – a boat-shaped float each with 90 lanterns hung triangularly on a poll more than 15 meters tall, set up straight on a base weighing 1.5t – all evening and night. Seven neighborhoods around the shrine each bring out their tatemon praying for good catch and maritime safety. The valiant and vigorous festival which its origin dating back to few centuries ago has now become the region’s summer feature.


[Date] August 7-8, 2006
[Hours] Around 17:00 – 24:00
[Location] Suwa Shrine
1-16 Suwamachi, Uozu City, Toyama Prefecture
[Access] 20-min-walk from JR Uozu Station
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0765-22-1200 (Uozu City Tourist Association)
[URL] http://www115.sakura.ne.jp/~suwajinjya/pages/tatemon.html
(Suwa Shrine official web site, Japanese)



○Friday August 11th <Mikuni Fireworks>

Mikuni Fireworks display about 7,000 fireworks including 2-shaku-dama (shell diameter 2ft), trick fireworks, Star Mine and Niagara creating a gorgeous view at Mikuni Sunset Beach, and is known to be the largest fireworks display in the Hokuriku region. Above all, the main enjoyment of this fireworks is probably the water fireworks also known to be the specialty of Mikuni fireworks, in which the light of the fireworks sparkle on the water surface in a sector form.


[Date] August 11, 2006
[Hours] 19:30 –
[Location] Mikuni Sunset Beach
3-chome Mikunichoshuku, Sakai City, Fukui Prefecture
[Access] 5-min-walk from Mikunikoh Station: Echizen Tetsudo railways
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0776-50-3152 (Sakai City Bureau of Commerce, Industry and Tourism)
[URL] http://www.sunset-beach.net/msb/hanabi.html
(Mikuni Sunset Beach official web site, Japanese)



○Saturday August 12th <Nagaragawa River Taki-Noh (bonfire noh)>

Another summer feature offering noh and kyogen performances at the special stage set on the Nagaragawa riverbeds. When the cormorant fishing boats approach the audience seats looking out across the jet black Kinkazan mountain and the lit-up Gifu Castle, the torch light gives fire to the bonfire on the stage creating a fascinating atmosphere. It is one of the largest bonfire noh in Japan and attracts five to six thousand audience each year.


[Date] August 12, 2006
[Hours] Doors open... around 17:00
Play starts... around 18:00
Play ends... around 20:30
[Location] Special Stage built on Nagaragawa riverbeds
648 Nagara, Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture
[Access] From Meitetsu Gifu Station (Meitetsu Line) take local bus for 20 minutes,
get off at Gifu Grand Hotel-mae bus stop and walk 2 minutes
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 058-264-8090 (Gifu Youth Council)
[URL] http://www.gifucvb.or.jp/kankou/shiki/takiginou.shtml
(Gifu Tourism and Convention Association)



○Saturday August 12th – Sunday August 13th
    <Yaizu Shrine Grand Festival – Aramatsuri –>

The Yaizu Shrine Aramatsuri (wild festivals), famous for being the wildest festival in the Tokai region, is truly a rough and violent one where men in white shout and crash into each other as they carry two mikoshi. Starting with the Okagurasai on the 12th, the festival moves on to Mikoshi-Togyo on the 13th. Okagurasai is a purifying ritual welcoming the god, and for the Mikoshi-Togyo, several thousand young people in white together with the procession of 300 god-role people accompany the mikoshi shouting “Un-etton”.


[Date] August 12-13, 2006
[Hours] 8/12... 7:00 – 22:00
8/13... 8:00 – 23:00

Yaizu Shrine
2-7-2 Yaizu, Yaizu City, Shizuoka Prefecture

[Access] 8-min-walk from JR Yaizu Station
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 054-628-2444 (Yaizu Shrine)
[URL] http://www.shizuoka-jinjacho.or.jp/shokai/jinja/7001.html
(Shizuoka Jinjacho (shrine agency) official web site, Japanese)



○Sunday August 13th <Tejikara no Himatsuri – Natsu (fire festival)>

A dynamic festival of light and fire consisted of Gohei-Andon (lamps as tall as 2-3 meters), Hidaki (firefalls), Tezutsu hanabi (hand-held fireworks) and Hanabi-mikoshi carried by men in loincloths. Since not torches are used but instead an enormous amount of gunpowder, the deafening bombs and roars of fire and people, fire sparks falling from 20 meters high in the air draws in the audience into the festival craziness. The Jiware-hanabi in which they light the shooting-fireworks (usually up in the sky) against the ground is also a specialty of this festival.


[Date] August 13, 2006
[Hours] 18:45 drum performances
19:30 fire festival

Nagaragawa Park
Nagara Fukumitsu Aza Tagawaki-mae, Gifu City, Gifu Prefecture

[Access] From JR Gifu Station take local bus for 15 minutes, get off at Ukaiya bus stop,
three-minute-walk from bus stop
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 058-265-4141 (Gifu City Commerce Industry and Tourism Convention Room)
[URL] http://www.city.gifu.gifu.jp/kankou/matsuri_11.html
(Gifu City Official Site, Japanese)


○Sunday August 13th – Wednesday August 16th
    <Gujo-odori Tetsuya-odori (all-night dancing)>

One of Japan’s Three Great Bon-Odori in which several hundred thousand people dance literally all night till break of dawn. The Gujo-odori itself goes on from mid-July to early September, but these 4 days are the only time when they really dance all-night.
About 10 kinds of songs and music for the dancing are played one after another, and as the music changes dancers change their movements. The dancing itself is rather simple and easy allowing first-timers to learn quickly. Why not jump in and dance all-night?


[Date] August 13-16, 2006
[Hours] 20:00 – 4:00 (5:00) next day

Shinmachi – Hashimotocho – Honmachi
Hachimancho Shinmachi, Gujo City, Gifu Prefecture

[Access] 15-min-walk from Gujo Hachiman Station: Nagaragawa Tetsudo railways
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0575-67-1808 (Gujo City Hachiman Community Development Office)
[URL] http://www.gujo-odori.com/bl/
(Gujo Odori official web site, Japanese)


○Wednesday August 16th – Thursday August 17th <Lord Kenshin Festival>

This is a festival held in memory of Uesugi Kenshin, a feudal lord governing this area during the time period when Japan had samurais fighting each other all across the country. People today put on costumes and armors of the days back then, recreating how the warriors taking to the field. The most stunning of all is the recreation of Kawanakajima Battle in the dusk with bonfires, as if taking the viewers back half millennia ago.


[Date] August 16-17, 2006

8/16... 8:00 – 18:30
8/17... 9:00 – 19:00


Kasuga Castle Ruins
Kasuga area, Joetsu City, Niigata Prefecture

[Access] From JR Kasugayama Station take bus for 5 minutes and get off at
Monogatarikan-Iriguchi bus stop
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 025-526-6901 (Joetsu City Office)
[URL] http://www.city.joetsu.niigata.jp/event/kenshin/festival/index.html
(Joetsu City Office official web site, Japanese)


○Saturday August 26th – Sunday August 27th <Yoshida Fire Festival>

One of Japan’s Three Strangest Festivals where the place turns into a crucible of fire. On the 26th, 5 mikoshi set out from Sengen Shrine and tours around the city, and as they are placed at the otabisho the 90cm-wide, 3-meter-tall torches and other torches set across the city is lit with fire all at once, turning the whole area as wide as 2km across turning into a sea of fire.
The festival on the 27th is called the Susuki-Matsuri, where the young ones carrying susuki (silver grass) accompany the mikoshi back to Sengen Shrine.


[Date] August 26-27, 2006

Evening – night


Across Fuji Yoshida City
Fuji Yoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture

[Access] 3-min-walk from Fuji Yoshida Station: Fuji Kyuko
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0555-22-1111 (Fuji Yoshida City Tourist Association)
[URL] http://www.city.fujiyoshida.yamanashi.jp/forms/info/info.aspx?info_id=500
(Fuji Yoshida City official web site, Japanese)


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