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Plenty to see! Three Japanese Festivals for Families - The Tokai Edition-

 

There are many historic and impressive festivals and events throughout Japan. There are also lots of festivals and events that kids can enjoy with the impressive and gorgeous floats. In this article, we will introduce three carefully selected festivals held in the Tokai area that we particularly recommend!
※All information and prices listed are accurate as of January 2021.


(1)Spring Takayama Festival(Gifu)
(2)Furukawa Festival(Gifu)
(3)Ofuna Festival(Mie)

 

(1)Spring Takayama Festival in Gifu


Takayama Festival is a festival held twice a year in Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture. It is the generic name for the Hie Shrine annual festival "Spring Sanno Festival" which is held from April 14th to 15th, and the Sakurayama Hachimangu annual festival "Autumn Hachiman Festival" held from October 9th to 10th. This festival has been designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage.

 

Along with the Gion Festival held in Kyoto City and the Chichibu Night Festival held in Chichibu City in Saitama, it is considered one of the three major beautiful festivals in Japan. The highlight of the festival is the gorgeous floats (dashi floats). You are sure to be stunned by the gorgeous and magnificent size of the floats. At the Takayama Spring Festival, there are 12 floats, which are the treasures of the "Sanno Matsuri" group of floats, that appear on the south side of Yasukawa Dori, which is the venue of the festival. Three of them will have "dedication of karakuri (mechanical doll)" performances where karakuri dolls controlled with 36 strings dance. Kids are sure to be fascinated by the colourful festival floats and traditional Japanese performing arts performed by skilled puppeteers!


Event schedule:
Annually on April 14th & 15th
※The details regarding the 2021 festival are still under consideration(as of January 2021) 

 

Access:
From Tokyo Station to Takayama, take the Tokaido Shinkansen for about 1 hour and 50 minutes to Nagoya Station. Then, from Nagoya Station, take the “JR Takayama Main Line Limited Express Wide View Hida” to Takayama Station in around 2 hours 20 minutes. Then it takes about 12 minutes on foot from JR Takayama Station to the event area.

 

(2)Furukawa Festival(Gifu)


"Furukawa Festival" is held annually on April 19th and 20th in Furukawa-cho, Hida City, Gifu Prefecture (formerly known as Furukawa-cho, Yoshiki-gun). At the annual festival at Keta Wakamiya Shrine, a solemn "shrine procession" is held at the main shrine. It is a traditional Shinto ritual with three major events, including the powerful "Okoshi Taiko drum” (awakening drums) and the gorgeous "float procession". The highlight is the taiko drum performance. Hundreds of shirtless men wearing a bleached cloth carry a yagura(buildings made of wood or other materials piled high) and patrol the town while beating the taiko drums on the yagura. We were surprised at the loud sound that echoed throughout the town! The nine gorgeous "float processions" are also masterpieces! The taiko drums and float event has also been designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. The Okoshi Taiko drum and float processions will keep both children and adults entertained. It's a great way to experience the unique atmosphere of a Japanese festival.

Event schedule:
April 19th-20th annually
※The details of the 2021 event are currently undecided(as of January 2021) 

Access:
The area of the venue is a short walk from JR Hida Furukawa Station, which is next to Takayama Station.

 

(3)Ofuna Festival(Mie)

The " Ofuna Festival" is held at Aominesan Shoufukuji Temple in Toba City, Mie Prefecture, to pray for maritime safety. The colorful big fishing flags dedicated by fishermen and maritime officials from all over the country flutter in the temple grounds, which is a masterpiece! The eleven-faced Kannon of the principal idol, which has a legend that it came from the sea of Osatsu on a whale, will be opened. It is crowded with worshipers who wish for maritime safety.

 

Event schedule: 
March 1st 2021(Monday, Lunar Calendar January 18th) 

 

Access:
Take a taxi from Ise IC via Ise-Futami-Toba Line, about 30 minutes.

 

Tips for enjoying the festival
 

1)Take measures against the heat and coldness at outdoor events
 

In Japan, there are many festivals held throughout the year. Winter in Japan gets pretty cold, so make sure to protect yourself from the coldness with winter items like a scarf, gloves, and hat! Additionally, it is recommended to wear two pairs of socks and undergarments to protect against the cold! Be sure not to forget to take measures against the heat and heat stroke from July to August too!

 

2)To avoid blocking the traffic, keep walking and hold your child's hand tightly during famous crowded festivals

 

In Japan, there are many famous festivals all across the country. Particularly when parades are held on the main street, lots of people gather to see the gorgeous floats and parades. When it is crowded, if you stop in the street, it will cause traffic problems for the people around you, so try to avoid stopping as much as possible. Also, hold hands and keep an eye on small children so that they don't get lost in the crowds! 
During the festival, the roads may be closed to traffic, so check the official website for information in advance. Some festivals sell tickets for a fee, so please check the website of the festival you wish to attend.

 

3)Find out information such as transportation timetable changes and toilets locations 

 

On the days of big events, traffic restrictions may be imposed and public transportation may run on special schedules. Be sure to check the transportation schedule so that if your family get tired, you can head back to your accommodation rather smoothly without any issues. 

Also, be sure to find out the location of the toilets! This way you can enjoy local drinks and snacks without worrying about toilet breaks.


Refer to the following for more information on the facilities mentioned in this article.

https://www.japan.travel/en/destinations/tokai/
https://www.japan.travel/en/things-to-do/festivals-and-events/

 

Takayama
https://www.japan.travel/en/destinations/tokai/gifu/
https://www.hida.jp/english/ 

 

Youtube URL:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?list=PLJyoA32nPqKb0sCxlNxeLJ0lkKMMvB9q4&v=sRcyJ8DHyM8

 

Mie
https://www.japan.travel/en/destinations/tokai/mie/
https://www.kankomie.or.jp/index.html

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