Festivals & Events
The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival takes place August 5 to 7 and celebrates the traditional music and dance of the region in one of Tohoku's largest parades. Moving to the hypnotic rhythm of the taiko drums, some 10,000 local dancers in dazzling costumes follow gorgeously decorated floats.
Happening in Yamagata City, the Yamagata Hanagasa Festival is easily reached by public transportation.
About a 10-minute walk from JR Yamagata Station, the festival takes place from Tokamachi Corner to the front of Bunshokan.
The Yamagata Hanagasa Festival was first held in 1964 and is one of the four main festivals in Tohoku, along with Sendai's Tanabata Festival, Aomori's Nebuta Festival and Akita's Kanto Matsuri. The festival attracts over 1 million spectators during its three days.
Facing Bunshokan, Yamagata's former city hall, the dancers move along to the rhythm of folk songs, whose lyrics such as “Yassho, Makasho” propel the performers through the streets.
Proudly displayed hand-made flower-hats are the emblem of the Hanagasa dance. They are made of straw and decorated with artificial safflowers, the symbol of Yamagata Prefecture.
The dance style has evolved over the years. Originally the dances were beautifully synchronized group performances, but nowadays they are more creative, freestyle in nature, and often involve twirling the Hanagasa hats.