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…
Cultural in Nara


Though the origins of this festival are unclear (it's possibly a nod to a long-ago feud between the monks of Tōdai-ji and Kōfuku-ji), Nara's three big religious institutions, Tōdai-ji, Kōfuku-ji and Kasuga Taisha, c…
Cultural in Nara

Shuni-e Ceremony

During this fire festival the monks of Tōdai-ji parade huge, flaming torches around the balcony of Nigatsu-dō for 10 nights straight, raining embers on spectators to purify them. On the following day they draw water…
Cultural in Nara


On 3 February, also known as Setsubun (the first day of spring on the old lunar calendar), Kasuga Taisha lights each and every one of its 3000 stone and bronze lanterns – it's unbelievably atmospheric. The festival …
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 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…
Parade in Nagahama

Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri

Nagahama's famous festival lasts a week, but the highlight takes place on 15 April, when costumed five- to 13-year-old children perform kabuki (a form of stylised Japanese theatre) aboard a dozen elaborately ornamen…
Light Show in Kōbe


Kōbe's biggest event takes place over 10 days in early December, when the streets southwest of Kōbe City Hall are decorated with illuminated archways that together look like an other-worldly cathedral. It's held in …
Cultural in Nachi-Katsuura

Nachi-no-Ōgi Matsuri

Mikoshi (portable shrines) are brought down from Kumano Nachi Taisha on the mountain to the waterfall Nachi-no-taki, where they're met by groups bearing dramatic, flaming torches (believed to have a purifying effect…