Top Choice Cultural in Osaka

Tenjin Matsuri

This is one of Japan's three biggest festivals and is dedicated to Sugawara Michizane, the Japanese deity of scholarship and learning. Try to make the second day, when processions of mikoshi (portable shrines) and p…
Parade in Nagahama

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

The town's famous festival, Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri, takes place from 14 to 16 April. The highlight is costumed five- to 13-year-old children performing kabuki (stylised Japanese theatre) plays aboard a dozen elab…
Light Show in Kōbe


Kōbe's biggest annual event is held every evening in early December in memory of the 6000 people who perished in the 1995 Great Hanshin Earthquake, and to celebrate the city's miraculous recovery. The streets southw…
Cultural in Nara


During this two-week festival in early March, the monks of Tōdai-ji parade huge flaming torches around the balcony of Nigatsu-dō and rain down embers on the spectators to purify them, in a nightly ceremony called Ot…
Cultural in Nara


The Lantern Festival involves the lighting of 3000 stone and bronze lanterns around Kasuga Taisha at 6pm one night in early February – it's impossibly atmospheric. A bugaku (dance piece played by court orchestras in…
Cultural in Nara


In early January (the day before Seijin-no-hi, or Coming-of-Age Day), the Grass Burning Festival commemorates a feud that was had many centuries ago between the monks of Tōdai-ji and Kōfuku-ji: Wakakusa-yama is set …
Cultural in Kōya-san

Rōsoku Matsuri

This captivating festival is held in remembrance of departed souls. Thousands of people come to light some 100,000 candles along the approaches to Oku-no-in.
Cultural in Himeji

Nada-no-Kenka Matsuri

At most matsuri, mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded through town; here, three competing teams of loincloth-clad men batter their mikoshi at one another until only one (the winner) is left intact. (These are ligh…
Cultural in Nara


Those deer in Nara-kōen are pursued in a type of elegant rodeo into the Roku-en (deer enclosure) close to Kasuga Taisha on the second Saturday and Sunday of October and then again the following Monday. They are then…
Cultural in Osaka

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

Osaka's wildest festival, held over the 3rd weekend in September, is a kind of running of the bulls except with danjiri (festival floats), many weighing over 3000kg. The danjiri are hauled through the streets by hun…