Festivals & Events
In Kumamoto Prefecture, the summer is filled with festivals and events and the Yamaga Toro Matsuri, or Lantern Festival is one of the brightest.
Yamaga is best accessed by car or bus from Shin-Tamana Station. The bus ride takes around an hour.
Yamaga is famous for its lanterns, and hundreds of them are used during the festival. In fact, women even wear them on their heads for the slow summer dance they perform as part of the festivities. The celebrations also feature a fantastic firework display with over 4,000 fireworks lighting up the sky.
An old story says that an ancient emperor of Japan was traveling to Yamaga when a dense fog descended, and he got lost. The townspeople lit pine torches to light the way; an event they have been re-enacting annually, ever since.
If you want to learn more about the history of the lanterns and the festival, visit the Yamaga Lantern Museum just off the main street. With a visit to the museum, you can get a discount ticket for the Yamaga Theater to see various performances, including traditional Kabuki and Noh theater.