Mark your calendar and fill it up with these incredible opportunities to travel Hyogo and its neighboring prefectures.
July 14, Nachi-no-Hi Matsuri in Wakayama
A festival where 12 enormous fire torches are lit at the base of Nachi Waterfall. The torches welcome the god Kumano back to the Grand Shrine located there. Held at a waterfall in mountains surrounded by trees this festival offers a unique natural experience.
July 17, Gion Matsuri, Kyoto
Probably the most well-known festival in the Kansai region, if not Japan, it includes enormous and impressively decorated floats known as yama and hoko. These floats are then pulled by group of volunteers and painstakingly turned using wooden slats at corners. Although the floats can be viewed throughout the month of July the biggest parade is on July 17with a smaller procession on July 24.
July 25, Tenjin Matsuri, Osaka
Though actually starting on July 24, the main events for this festival occur on the second day, July 25. Similar to Gion Matsuri in that there is a parade through Osaka starting at Tenmangu Shrine, Tenjin stands out due to the water procession that follows the one on land.
Late July, Samba Festa, Kobe
Apparently Kobe is the home of Samba in Japan, who knew. Catch enthusiasts of this music and dance, originating from Brazil walk the streets of Sannomiya.
Early August, Minato Firework Festival, Kobe
Head out to Kobe Harborland for an evening full of fireworks and delicious finger foods. Get there early and grab a spot before it gets too crowded.
August 3 -5, Taga Taisha Lantern Festival, Shiga
Not only will you be able to catch a wonderful display of lanterns at Taga Taisha Shrine, but it’s also known in Japan for matchmaking and longevity. Perfect for summer love.
August 8, Biwako Hanabi Matsuri, Shiga
Though similar to the other firework festivals throughout the summer, this one gives you the additional bonus of visiting beautiful Lake Biwa. Supposedly one of the best in Japan, though I’ve learned by now that most prefectures like to boast about things that can’t be measured and are extremely subjective.
August 16, Daimonji Gozan Okuribi, Kyoto
If there was one chance for Japan to blare Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start The Fire” over a speaker system during a festival this would be it. Occurring at the end of Obon, giants fires are lit on the mountains surrounding Kyoto to send the spirits of the deceased on their way. There are five large characters set ablaze in total and although each has their own specific best viewing spot, you can get a panoramic view of 4 of the 5 fires from Funaokayama Park.
August 16, Kobe Seaside Bon Dance, Meriken Park
With a spirit is release from this realm at the end of Obon, joy is said to fill those concerned with the spirits of the deceased. This joy results in dancing, which is why numerous Obon odori festivals exist today. Dance to your heart’s content while you watch the celebration at this year’s festival in Meriken Park
Aug. 15 -16, Tamba-Sasayama Dekansho Festival, Tamba
If you’re tired of always sticking around Kobe for summer festivals, but want to stay in Hyogo head over to Tamba this summer. With their unique Obon odori you can enjoy a familiar scene in a new environment.