Top Choice Festival in Sado-ga-shima

Earth Celebration

One of Sado's biggest drawcards is this three-day music, dance and arts festival, held during the third week in August. The event features okesa (folk dances), onidaiko (demon drum dances) and tsuburosashi (a phall…
Top Choice Music in Naeba

Fuji Rock Festival

Japan's premier event on the world music circuit, Fuji Rock promises three days of musical mayhem in the mountains. Up to a staggering 100,000 people come to see legendary cross-genre big-ticket and upcoming acts. D…
Parade in Hirosaki

Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri

Hirosaki's Neputa Matsuri is famous for the illuminated floats parading each evening to the accompaniment of flutes and drums. The festival is considered to signify ceremonial preparation for battle, expressing sent…
Spiritual in Shimokita Peninsula

Osore-zan Taisai

These two annual festivals attract huge crowds of people, who come to consult itako (mediums) in order to contact deceased family members.
Nature in Kakunodate

Kakunodate Sakura

On the river embankment, a 2km stretch of cherry trees becomes a tunnel of pure pink during the hanami (blossom viewing) season. Some of the shidare-zakura (drooping cherry) trees in the buke yashiki (samurai distri…
Cultural in Kakunodate

Kakunodate O-matsuri

As they have done for 350 years, festival participants haul around enormous seven-tonne yama (wooden carts) to pray for peaceful times, accompanied by folk music and dancing.
Cultural in Akita

Akita Kantō Matsuri

At summer's height, Akita celebrates its visually stunning Pole Lantern Festival. As evening falls on the city centre, more than 160 men skilfully balance giant poles, weighing 60kg and hung with illuminated lantern…
Cultural in Tsuruoka

Tenjin Matsuri

On 25 May each year, people stroll around in masks and costumes, serving sake and keeping an eye out for friends and acquaintances. The object is to make it through the festival without anyone recognising you. Manag…
Cultural in Dewa Sanzan

Hassaku Matsuri

Yamabushi (mountain priests) perform ancient fire rites throughout the night to pray for a bountiful harvest.
Cultural in Dewa Sanzan


On New Year's Eve, yamabushi perform similar rituals to those of the mountain priests at the Hassaku Matsuri, competing with each other after completing 100-day-long austerities.