Shanshan Festival 鳥取しゃんしゃん祭

Shan-shan festival
Shan-shan festival

A singular and lively celebration of the dead, with umbrella dances and bells ringing

Tottori City's colorful Shanshan Festival in mid-August is part of the area's Obon celebrations. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom of honoring the spirits of one's ancestors.

People return to their hometowns from all over Japan for a few days to clean the family graves and take part in various ceremonies, generally somber in nature.

Not here. The city's streets fill with people in the parade and many more revelers aside, watching on from the packed sidewalks. As many as 4,000 people take part in the umbrella dances alone.

How to Get There

The Shanshan Festival takes place right outside of Tottori Station, making it easy to get to by train.

Taking the Super Hakuto Express from Osaka or Kyoto will get you there in between two and a half to three hours.

A dance with umbrellas

The Shanshan Festival's Bon odori (Obon dances) are known as kasa-odori (umbrella dances) and te-odori (hand dances).

The name “shan shan” is based on the onomatopoeia for the sound of a bell ringing. The large decorative paper umbrellas are adorned with small bells are shaken during the dancing.

According to a legend from the town of Kokufu, a town near Tottori City , an old man danced with an umbrella during a long drought until the day he died, and the drought ended.

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