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Blast in Japan Summer 2006

Festivals and Fireworks in Kansai Region
– August Edition –

PL Fireworks Exhibition

Because the host and the purpose of the fireworks are religious the fireworks display is not advertised so much publicly, yet with a total of 120,000 shots in only one hour, this is undoubtedly the largest fireworks exhibition not only in Japan but also across the globe. A simple calculation makes it 2,000 shots per minute (meaning most of the other major fireworks in Japan will be over in less than 10 minutes), but the climax of the PL fireworks features 8,000 shots in no longer than 5 minutes turning the entire city of Osaka as bright as daytime (and this is no exaggeration!).
Even though the event is not largely publicized, still there are thousands of people pouring into the city every year.
*only followers of the religion (PL) are allowed to enter the community’s grounds and buildings.

[Dates] August 1, 2006
[Time] 19:45 – 20:50
[Location] PL Head Quarters
Tondabayashi City, Osaka Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from Tondabayashi Station: Kintetsu Line
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0721-24-1111 (Church of Perfect Liberty)
[URL] http://tktaku.com/PL/
(From OSAKA(http://tktaku.com/) intro from personal web)
Danjiri Festival

The festival floats usually called ‘dashi’ in Kanto region is called ‘danjiri’ here in Kansai region, and when talking about Danjiri Festival it is most likely to be the one held in Kishiwada in Osaka Prefecture, which is so rough and violent that there have been fatalities once in every few years.
This Danjiri Festival held in Amagasaki can be as wild as the Kishiwada Danjiri, with a single thunderous drum and 8 danjiri pushed and pulled enthusiastically and energetically around the area.
If coming to the festival, be sure not to miss the now rare Jiguruma-Yamaawase where two floats with men on them crash into each other to determine the winner.

[Dates] August 1-2, 2006
[Time] depend on each sub-event
[Location] Kifune Shrine precincts and neighborhood area
6-246 Nishi-Hommachi, Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from Deyashiki Station: Hanshin Dentetsu Line
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 06-6411-0170 (Kifune Shrine)
[URL] http://www.city.amagasaki.hyogo.jp/
(Amagasaki City official web site, Japanese)

Nearly 20,000 paper lanterns light the shrine precincts dimly yet dreamily, and under the lights go on the live performances of Taga Ondo, Sarugaku (classic performing art) and so on. Mantou-Ichi (street fair) held on the approach to the shrine as well as the performances draw a number of visitors until dawn each day.

[Dates] August 3-5, 2006
[Time] depend on each sub-event (evening thru dawn)

Taga Taisha Shrine precincts
604 Taga, Taga Town, Inugami County, Shiga Prefecture

[Access] 10-min-walk from Taga Taisha-mae Station:
Oumi Tetsudo Line
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0749-48-1101 (Taga Taisha)
[URL] http://www.tagataisya.or.jp/mantousai.htm
(Taga Taisha Shrine official web site, Japanese)
Yure-Daiko (drum performance)

August 4th is called the Bridge Day since the combination “84” can be read “ha(8)-shi(4)” in Japanese. On this Bridge Day on the longest suspension bridge in Japan, will be a drum performance. The performance of the heavy large Japanese drums and vigorous drummers swing the already rickety bridge, providing entertainment and thrill to the audience. There will be other events held around the bridge as well.

[Dates] August 4, 2006
[Time] 17:00 –
[Location] Tanise-no-Tsuribashi (Tanise Suspension Bridge)
Totsukawa Village, Yoshino County, Nara Prefecture
[Access] take Kintetsu Line to Yamato Yagi Station, take bus for 140 minutes and get off at Uenoji stop, walk 3 minutes.
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0746-62-0001 (Totsukawa Village Tourist Bureau)
[URL] http://www.totsukawa.org/event/yuredaiko/index.htm
(Tsuribashi Matsuri Planning Committee, Japanese)
Himeji Castle Festival

The Himeji Castle Festival is a huge festival that praises the great works of the forerunners that built the Himeji Castle. Friday hosts a subtle Noh Stage against the castle, and on Saturday there will be cheery events including several parades and group dancing. The festival is wrapped up on Sunday with Himeji Yosakoi (dance/music/song) and drum performances.

[Dates] Aug 4-6, 2006
[Time] to be announced on below web site
[Location] Himeji Castle area
68 Hommachi, Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture
[Access] 15-min-walk from Himeji Station: Sanyo and JR Lines
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0792-87-3656 (Himeji City Kanko Koryu Suishinshitsu)
[URL] http://www.himeji-kanko.jp/shun/shun0002.html
(Himeji Tourist Association official web site, Japanese)
Nagahama/ North Biwa Lake Grand Fireworks

About 10,000 fireworks color the water surface of Lake Biwa beautifully. The climax is when 1,000 star mine shots are launched high up in the sky in only 5 minutes. The scale is of course is spectacular, but on top of that the art aspect of this fireworks display where hanabi craftsmen from across the country bring their best works is also breathtaking.

[Dates] August 5th, 2006
[Time] 19:30 –
[Location] Nagahama Port area
Minatomachi, Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture
[Access] 10-min-walk from JR Nagahama Station
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0749-62-4111 (Nagahama City Tourist Bureau)
[URL] http://www.nagahamashi.org/news/hanabi2006.htm
(Nagahama City Tourist Association official web site, Japanese)
Ishidori Festival

Known to be the ‘strangest festival’ or the ‘loudest festival’ in Japan, the Ishidori Festival features more than 30 festival floats, drums and gongs roaring and thundering around the city for 3 nights and 2 days straight.

[Dates] August 5-6, 2006
[Time] 8/5...0:00am – all day
8/6...2:00am – all day (climax: Sunday evening – night)
[Location] Kasuga Shrine area
46 Hommachi, Kuwana City, Mie Prefecture
[Access] 15-min-walk from JR Kuwana Station
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0594-22-1913 (Kasuga Shrine)
[URL] http://kanko.city.kuwana.mie.jp/event/ishidori/
(Kuwana City Tourist Bureau official web site, Japanese)
(Kuwana Sightseeing Association, Japanese)
Daibutsu-sama Ominugui

On August 7th, Japan’s largest Buddha statue gets cleaned by nearly 200 monks and staffs every year. The cleaning starts early in the morning with a ritual which displaces the Buddha’s spirit temporarily out of the statue, and then the monks all dressed up in white climb up the 15-meter-tall (50ft.) Buddha mainly wiping the dust off his head and shoulders.

[Dates] August 7, 2006
[Time] 7:00 – 9:30am
(N.B. gates will not be open to public until 7:30)
[Location] Todaiji Temple Daibutsuden
406-1 Zoshi-cho, Nara City, Nara Prefecture
[Access] from JR Nara Station take the city (circulation) bus for 10 minutes, get off at Daibutsuden Kasuga Taisha-mae stop and walk 10 minutes.
[Admission] 500yen for the Daibutsuden entrance
[Inquiry] 0742-22-5511 (Todaiji Temple)
[URL] http://www.todaiji.or.jp/
(Todaiji Temple official web site, Japanese)
Koyasan Mantou-Kuyou-E

Since both sides of the 1.9km (slightly over a mile) approach to the temple is lit with a total of 100,000 candles, the Mantou-Koyou-E is also known as the candle festival. The summer tradition of the sacred Koya mountain invites visitors to an ethereal, subtle and profound world.

[Dates] August 13, 2006
[Time] 19:00 –

Okunoin Temple
550 Koya-cho, Ito County, Wakayama Prefecture

[Access] from Koyasan Station (Nankai Tetsudo Koya Line) take Nankai Rinkai Bus for 25 minutes, get off at Karukayado bus stop.
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 0736-56-2011
(Koyacho Chuo Kominkan/ Kongobuji Temple Okunoin)
[URL] http://www.shukubo.jp/whatsnew/whatsnew.cgi
(Koyasan official web site, Japanese)
Daimonji Gozan Okuribi

Five symbols will be lit on the sides of five mountains surrounding Kyoto City, as gigantic fire patterns. The fire keeps on burning for about half an hour from the firing, eventually dying out as the summer night air creates a quiet, yet somewhat exciting atmosphere for the end of bon.

*Spots where you can see all okuribi for goza

Free: Funaokayama Park peak (N.B. one pattern can not be seen from here)
Charged: tops of hotels across the city

[Dates] August 16, 2006
[Time] 20:00 –
[Location] various places in Kyoto City
[Access] JR Kyoto station – city bus
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 075-343-6655 (Kyoto City Tourist Information Bureau)
[URL] http://www.kyokanko.or.jp/3dai/daimonji.html
(Kyoto City Tourist Association official web site, Japanese)
(Kyoto City Tourist Association official web site, English)
Yao Kawachi Ondo Matsuri

An energetic event to wrap up the summer break, Yao Kawachi Ondo Matsuri is a grand Kawachi Ondo (dance and song) event held at its home ground. On the first day, dancers in various costumes of brilliant colors and ideas parade along the street. The second day hosts a huge bon-odori at Yao High School where hundreds of people in all generations gather up creating a crucible of dance.

[Dates] August 26-27, 2006
[Time] 10:00 – 22:00 (general)/ 15:30 – 20:30 (parade)
[Location] Yao City center, Osaka Prefectural Yao High School
1-74 Takamachi, Yao City, Osaka Prefecture
[Access] 5-min-walk from Kintetsu Yao Station: Kinki Tetsudo Line
[Admission] free
[Inquiry] 072-994-5741 (Yao Kawachi Ondo Matsuri Committee)
[URL] http://www.city.yao.osaka.jp/cgi-bin/
(Yao City official web site, Japanese)
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