Local Festivals in Kumamoto
Kumamoto, the land of fire, lights up with spirited local festivals.
Every summer and autumn, the city of Kumamoto comes alive with vibrant traditional festivals, all organized by locals celebrating history and reveling in the sense of community and merrymaking.
Hosted by Fujisaki Hachimangu, one of Kumamoto’s major shrines, the Fujisaki Hachimangu Grand Fall Festival, also known as the Zuibyo Festival, takes place in mid-September and involves thousands of citizens. Dating back more than 1,000 years, the parade takes several mikoshi portable shrines through the streets of the city, followed by a procession of locals dressed as samurai. A lively entourage of 70 horses follows, each decorated with colorful braided regalia and accompanied and cheered on by over 20,000 participants.
October brings the Mizuakari Festival, a night show of 54,000 lanterns surrounding the recently renovated Kumamoto Castle. Following the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake, the newly restored castle has become the symbol of recovery as the city rebuilding process steadily continues. For this reason, the illuminated figure of the castle restored to its former glory gives strength to many city residents. First held in 2004, Mizuakari Festival is funded by local businesses and maintained by over 6,000 volunteers. The spectacular view includes 5,000 lanterns set afloat on Tsuboi River, which also serves as the Kumamoto Castle moat.
Come summer, and Kumamoto’s streets turn into a huge dance party for the Hinokuni Festival, an event named after Kumamoto’s moniker “Fire Country.” Here, the city celebrates its myths and legends involving fire with thousands of festival dancers, split into troupes and dressed in vibrant happi coats or yukata summer wear. Visit on day two for the So Odori, the highlight of the event that invites around 5,000 participants to dance to Otemoyan, a traditional Kumamoto folk song.
Watch the video above to see scenes from Fujisaki Hachimangu Grand Fall Festival, Hinokuni (Land of Fire) Festival, Mizuakari (Waterlight) Festival, and Kumamoto Castle’s illuminations, and plan a trip to Kumamoto to come and experience these lively festivals for yourself!
How to get there
20 minutes by train from Kumamoto Station or 50 minutes by bus from Kumamoto Airport.