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When you travel, you want to make sure you don't miss out exciting major events that are held only once a year, right? Or maybe you want to arrange your trip around a season that has a bunch of big festivals going on. This section's a place to introduce major events that are going to be held one-two months ahead, and it covers the entire country. More and more information will be added all year long, so whether you're thinking or not of traveling to the country of festivals keep your eyes fixed on this page and see what kinds of things are going on in Japan!
< April - Vol.1 >
Apr 7, 2007 | Warrior Samurai Parade
Matsue City / Shimane Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Musha Gyoretsu)
Until 2005 the Musha Gyoretsu (warrior parade) took place together with the Matsue Doh Gyoretsu (Matsue Drum Parade) as an autumnal event. This year, however, the Musha Gyoretsu proudly opens the < Matsue Kaifu 400th Year Festival (400th anniversary of the opening of Matsue government i.e., foundation of Matsue Castle)> which will go on for five years from counting year 2007. The event is a large-scale ceremony and a recreation of a historical scene when founder of the castle Lord Horio Yoshiharu and his son as well as grandson marched into the castle with a number of retainer warriors and servants dressed in beautiful garments.
[Dates] April 7 (Sat)
[Time] 12:30 start
[Place] Tenjinmachi – Matsue Castle area
Matsue City, Shimane Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From JR Tokyo Station take JR Shinkansen (bullet train) Nozomi or Hikari to JR Okayama Station and transfer to JR super express Yakumo to JR Matsue Station. From JR Matsue Station take bus for 15min to Kencho-fukin Bus Stop. Short walk.
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0852-55-5214 (Matsue City Bureau of Tourism and Culture)
[URL] http://www.matsue400.jp/
(Matsue Opening 400th Anniversary Official Website, JPN. ENG / CHN / KOR / TWN soon to be ready)
>> Shimane Prefectural Guide
Apr 6-8 , 2007 | All Japan Chindon Contest
Toyama City / Toyama Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Zen-Nihon Chindon Concour 2007)
Chindon Competition
Photos: Courtesy of Toyama City
The All Japan Chindon Contest started in 1950 as a postwar society rebuilding event. Ever since the event has been taking place annually counting its 53rd holding this year. “Chindonman(men)”, who are traditional advertisers that walk around the streets with eye-catching costumes and musical instrument performances (drums, shamisen, bells, clarinet, etc) from all over Japan gather in Toyama for the contest to compete in their advertising skills and performances.
April 6th Friday
<Yugen Chindon Yozakura-nagashi>
19:00-20:00              Matsukawa River area
19:30-20:30              Sakuragicho

The “chindonmen” walks around as they play music through the hanami areas crowded with blossom viewers. In the evening they perform on the boat
floating on Matsukawa River in the fantastical and beautiful atmosphere with the illuminated cherry blossoms. (cancelled if rains)
April 7th Saturday
(1) Opening Ceremony – Chindon Parade
9:30 – 10:30 @ City Office – Kencho-mae Koen
(park in front of pref.govt.bldg)

After the opening ceremony the chindonmen will
perform along the Matsukawa River.

(2) 53rd All Japan Chindon Contest (preliminaries)
11:00-14:30 @ Kencho-mae Koen
30 groups of professional chindonmen from all over Japan compete in their skills, ideas and humor to become one of the 8 groups to go to the finals.

(3) Amateur Chindon Contest
14:30-17:30 @ Kencho-mae Koen
A competition of amateur chindomen gathering from all over Japan competing to win the one and only Best Award and the two Performance Awards. About 200 members in 27 groups participated for the competition last year.
(4) Chindon Orchestra Stage
17:30-18:10 @ Kencho-mae Koen
The Toyama Citizens Chindon Orchestra, an orchestra consisted of amateur chindonmen shows a heartwarming performance.
(5) Chindon “Fever” Live (Kyushu Ver.)
17:30-18:10 @ JR Toyama Station South Exit Plaza
19:00-19:40 @ Joshi Koen Matsukawa Area

Chindonmen from the prefectures of Kyushu shows an enthusiastic live performance in front of the station and along the river where hundreds of people gather around.
*if rains: parade will be cancelled and the other programs will change the venue to Toyama Kenmin Kaikan (Pref Hall).
April 8th Sunday
(1) Folk Song and Dance for Hanami
9:30-10:30 @ Kencho-mae Koen
Traditional songs and dances performed by Toyama Citizens Min’yo Association.
(2) 53rd All Japan Chindon Contest (finals)
10:30-12:30 @ Kencho-mae Koen
The 8 groups that won through the preliminaries the previous day will compete in a tournament to win the title of the best chindon in Japan. The theme of the patter will be the advertisements of the supporting companies.
(3) Awarding Ceremony
12:30-13:00 @ Kencho-mae Koen
The following awards will be given to the winners: champion, 2nd place, 3rd place, 5th place, dance award, music award, Takazawa Shigeto encouraging prize
(4) Chindon Grand Parade
14:30-16:00 @ Heiwa-dori – Ohte Mall
All the professional and amateur chindonmen as well as the brass band will have a great parade to cheerfully wrap up the three-day event.
[Place] In front of Toyama Prefectural Government Building, Heiwa-dori
1-chome, Shinsogawa, Toyama City, Toyama Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From JR Tokyo Station take JR Shinkansen (bullet train) Toki to JR Echigo Yuzawa Station and transfer to JR super express Hakutaka to JR Toyama Station. 10-min-walk.
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 076-423-1170 (Toyama City Tourist Association)
[URL] http://www.ccis-toyama.or.jp/toyama/cin/top.html
(Toyama City Chindon Contest Official Website, Japanese)

(Toyama Sightseeing Guide, All Japan Chindon Contest page, English)
(Toyama Sightseeing Guide Top Page, English)
>> Toyama Prefectural Guide
April 7–8, 2007 | 373rd Inuyama Festival
Inuyama City / Aichi Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Inuyama Matsuri)
National significant intangible folk cultural asset Inuyama-Matsuri is a festival that boasts a tradition of over 370 years. 13 festival floats called “yoyama” parade through the castle town of national treasure Inuyama Castle, showing “karakuri” (tricks) during daytime and illuminating the town and cherry blossoms in the evening with the orange light of 365 candles set inside paper lanterns. The sight of the procession especially after dark is truly beautiful and almost otherworldly, drawing the watchers into a dreamy atmosphere.
<Event Details>  
April 7th Saturday | Shigakusai (pre-festival)
(1) 9:50-10:40 One “yama” (floats) each from 13 “chonai” (blocks of neighborhood) gather to the plaza in front of Haritsuna Shrine.
(2) 12:00-13:00 The first 6 yama show the “karakuri” one after another to dedicate to the shrine, and proceeds to the west exit rotary of Inuyama Station.
(3) 13:40-15:10 The other half 7 yama dedicates their “karakuri” but stays instead of proceeding.
(4) 18:20 365 candles (lanterns) on each of all the 13 yama are lit with fire.
(5) 18:45-21:45 The yama tour around the castle town and go back to their houses.
April 8th Sunday | Hongakusai
(1) 8:50-9:20 The 13 yama gather in front of Haritsuna Shrine
(2) 10:00-15:00 The 13 yama each dedicate their “karakuri” to the shrine
(3) 15:00-17:00 The yama separate into two groups, one headed for Yozakamachi and the other for Inuyamaguchi
(4) 18:30 365 candles (lanterns) on each of all the 13 yama are lit with fire.
(5) 18:45-21:45 The yama tour around the castle town and go back to their houses.
[Dates] April 7 (Sat) – April 8 (Sun)
[Time] Please see schedule
[Place] Inuyama City castle town area (johkamachi area)
Inuyama City, Aichi Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From JR Tokyo Station take JR bullet train to JR Nagoya Station. From Meitetsu Nagoya Station (located next to JR Nagoya) take Meitetsu Inuyama Line to Meitetsu Inuyama Station. 1-min-walk to the Inuyama West Exit Rotary Venue. 15-min-walk to national treasure Inuyama Castle (plaza).
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 0568-61-6000 (Inuyama Tourist Information Center)
[URL] http://www.inuyama.gr.jp/news/373th/index.html
(Inuyama Festival information page, Japanese, pictures and movie)
>> Aichi Prefectural Guide
 Apr 10 – 11, 2007 | Itoigawa Fighting Festival
Itoigawa City / Niigata Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri)
Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri is a “fighting festival” of 500 years of tradition of welcome and entertain the god(s) with dance, music and above all kenka (fight), which two local neighborhoods crash their mikoshi (portable shrines) to each other for about 10 times to become the first to be consecrated to the shrine. The “motion (doh)” part with the fights will take place on the first day, and the “stillness (sei)” with stage dances and music mainly on the following day. Dances and music performed for this festival is also designated as national significant intangible cultural assets.
[Dates] April 10 (Tue) – April 11 (Wed)
[Time] Tuesday 4/10
9:00                    Ceremony
11:00-12:30      Kenka Mikoshi (fight)
13:00-17:30      Stage Dance and Music performances

Wednesday 4/11
13:00-17:30      Stage Dance and Music performances
[Place] Amatsu Shrine
1-3-34 Ichinomiya, Itoigawa City, Niigata Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From JR Tokyo Station take JR Shinkansen (bullet train) Toki to JR Echigo Yuzawa Station and transfer to JR super express Hokuetsu to JR Itoigawa Station. 10-min-walk.
[Admission] Free
[Inquiry] 025-552-1742 (Itoigawa City Tourist Association)
025-552-0036 (Amatsu Shrine Office)
[URL] http://www.niigata-kankou.or.jp/index.html
(Niigata Prefecture Tourist Association, JPN / ENG / CHN / KOR)
(Itoigawa City Official Website, Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri Information Page, Japanese)
>> Niigata Prefectural Guide
 Apr 14, 2007 | Ryukyu Kaiensai 2007 <HANABI ILLUSION>
Ginowan City / Okinawa Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Ryukyu Kaiensai 2007)
Ryukyu Kaiensai
Photos: Courtesy of Kaiensai Executive Office
Ryukyu Kaiensai is known as the earliest summer fireworks festival in Japan starting in 2004, and presents a magnificent collaboration of Okinawa’s rich nature, culture and fireworks. The art of fireworks become even more spectacular year after year showing against the clear water and sky full of stars of the southern island. The fireworks create a brilliant show of light and also Okinawa music which is played along the exhibition. In addition to the Fireworks Illusion there is also the Champloo Festa where visitors are welcome to enjoy free live concerts.
[Dates] April 14th (Sat)
[Time] 13:00-21:00
Fireworks… 20:00-21:00 (site opened at 15:00)
(postponed to 4/15 20:00-21:00 in case of bad weather)
[Place] Ginowan City Tropical Beach, Ginowan Convention Area
Mashiki, Ginowan City, Okinawa Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From Haneda Airport (Tokyo) fly to Naha Airport (Okinawa) and take bus #120 to Mashiki Bus Stop (50-min-ride). 15-min-walk. More buses available from Naha Bus Terminal.
[Tickets] Adv… Adults Y2,500 / Children (-12) Y1,500
Door… Adults Y 3,000 / Children Y2,000
*advanced tickets available 3/1-4/14 at Ticket Pia or Lawson Ticket across Japan. Door tickets will not be sold if advanced tickets are sold out. Admission free for children under 3 years of age. Please do not bring any coolers or plastic sheets. Refunds will be made in case the fireworks are cancelled on both days.
[Inquiry] 098-942-8706 (Ryukyu Kaiensai Executive Office)
[URL] http://ryukyu-kaiensai.com/index.html 
(Ryukyu Kaiensai Official Website, Japanese)
>> Okinawa Prefectural Guide
 April 14 – 15, 2007 | 2007 Kuriyama Shinise Festival
Kuriyama Town / Hokkaido Prefecture
(Japanese Name: Kuriyama ShiniseMatsur / 19th Kitanonishiki Sakagura Matsuri & 9th Kibidango Matsurii)
For just once a year the sake brewery will be opened to the public enabling visitors to have a tour around the sake-making house. The festival prepares a number of sake of the newest brew, including 4 kinds that are only available at the festival. All visitors are invited to enjoy the all-you-can-drink of rare amazake (sweet, non-alcoholic sake) made from the best sake lees.
The festival is co-hosted with Kobayashi Shuzo’s (brewery) neighbor Tanida Seika, an old established maker of Japan’s best kibidango (Japanese millet dumpling), where visitors are welcome to watch the process of kibidango making as well as taste freshly made kibidango. At the event stage set outside of the stores folk performing arts such as drums, shishimai and yosakoi will be shown, and a number of food stalls fill the area with local specialty dishes.

<Festival-limited sake only sold from 10:00am>
1,000 bottles of “Usu-nigorizake”
500 bottles of the very last “Arabashiri”

<Local Specialties>
- A truck load of raw oyster delivered that dawn from Akkeshi
- Jumbo mushroom stew made delivered from Aibetsu
- Iwamizawa specialty “ika-ponpon” (squid with rice fillings)
- Nanabangura specialty “kasuzuke” (sake lees pickled seafood)
- Kuriyama Town specialty soba (buckwheat noodles)
[Dates] April 14 (Sat) – April 15 (Sun)
[Time] 4/14… 10:00-16:00 (last entrance)
4/15… 10:00-15:00 (last entrance)
[Place] Kobayashi Shuzo, Tanida Seika and neighborhood
3-chome, Kuriyama Town Nishiku, Yubari County, Hokkaido Prefecture
[Access from Tokyo]
  From Haneda Airport (Tokyo) fly to Shinchitose Airport (Hokkaido) and take JR rapid line “Airport” to JR Sapporo Station. From JR Sapporo Station take JR Hakodate Honsen to Iwamizawa Station and transfer to JR Muroran Honsen to Kuriyama Station.
[Admission] Free
{inquiry] http://www.kitanonishiki.com/kitanonishiki/news/index.html
(Kobayashi Sake Brewery, 2007 Kuriyama Shinise Matsuri Info Page, Japanese)
http://www.kibidango.co.jp/ (Tanida Seika, Japanese)
>> Hokkaido Prefectural Guide
Spirited Away (2001)
  • Haruki Murakami
  • Yasunari Kawabata
  • Banana Yoshimoto
  • Yukio Mishima
  • Inazo Nitobe
  • Japanese Tea
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  • VAIO
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