Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display are the features of a special event on 16 August on the Matsubara Coast in Matsushima-cho, Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.
These festivities began in 1950 (Showa 25) during the Bon Festival season of the lunar calendar, and were held to appease the spirits of those who had died in the war.
Various fireworks, such as water fireworks and 'star-mines' are set off against the scenic backdrop of Kehi-no-Matsubara. The Great Fireworks Display is the largest-class of fireworks display held along the Sea of Japan coast. 12,000 fireworks are set off in a dynamic show.
At the same time as the fireworks, 6,000 red, blue, and yellow lanterns are set afloat from the Matsubara Coast, while sutras are chanted by monks.
In recent years, lasers and sound systems have been added as massive settings and configurations to the festival. The pyrotechnics begin with bottle rockets and finish with special character fireworks and other elaborate fireworks.
Lantern Floating and the Great Fireworks Display create a harmony between water, light and sound. It is a solemn, even mystic, event.
The Sanuki Takamatsu Festival, held in Takamatsu, is the representative festival of Kagawa Prefecture, and one of Shikoku's 4 major festivals.
This festival is the most popular in Takamatsu, and features a dance known as Sou-Odori as its main event. In Sou-Odori, 4000 people participate in the Takamatsu Dance and the Sanuki Dance in Chuo Park.
Festivities are further enlivened by local performing arts, parades, and Udon noodle-eating contests known as the Udon-lympics!
The climax of this festival is one of the largest fireworks displays in Western Japan. 5,000 fireworks are set off, filling the night sky with colorful sparkling lights.
The Sanuki Takamatsu Festival is a big event filled with festive fun.
Kutami Festival is held in Shinmei at the Shirahige Shrine. The festival takes place in spring when the cherry trees are in full blossom and there is a freshness in the air. The festival features six gorgeous floats that parade through the town to lively music.
The highlight of the festival is the 'thread-separating trick', which has been designated as a National Intangible Folklore Cultural Asset and a Prefectural Important Folklore Cultural Asset. The 'trick' is a kind of marionette performance. Threads are not directly linked to the 'trick', which is enacted using an original technique that differs to usual puppetry. The performance is highly valued in terms of both history and art.
This unique marionette performance changes its theme every year and may center around, for example, a folk tale, recent news, popular animation or sports. Each year presents something new and refreshing.
Horan Enya is a grand ceremony in Bungo Takada, Oita Prefecture, held to celebrate the New Year. This event first began in the mid-Edo period, when this area belonged to Nagasaki Shimabara Han. At that time, rice was collected as tax and transported by boat to warehouses in Shimabara and Osaka. It is said that Horan Enya was started as a ceremony to pray for the safety of the boats carrying the rice.
The Katsura River, which flows through the city, is the center stage for the festival. The 'horai' boat is brilliantly decorated with 'tairyo' (big catch) flags, 'bankoku' (all nations) flags and small bamboo branches with five different colored papers attached to them. The boat is boarded by young men in 'shimekomi' outfits, as well as musicians, dancers and other participants, and leaves from the Konpira Shrine at the mouth of the river. The boat zigzags up the river, and heads for the Wakamiyahachiman Shrine further upstream.
If a gift is presented from a spectator on the way to the shrine, one of the young men rowing the boat jumps determinedly into the chilly waters of the river to receive it. This is followed by a round of grateful applause from the people on the Horai boat.
Around the river is 'Showa Town', a shopping center recreated in Showa period style. Many rare, and nostalgic items can be found at the stores here, making it a great place for a stroll.
The Hojo Ya festival is an especially famous Shinto festival held in Fukuoka City. Hojo Ya is a religious ritual involving the freeing of all captive animals, and the banning of any taking of life during the festive period.
Although a Shinto festival, the practise of avoiding killing animals is Buddhist, but was absorbed into Shintoism. The festival is held in many temples and shrines all over the country in spring or autumn, along with the harvest thanksgiving rituals.
The enormous Hojo Ya at Hakozakigu in Fukuoka Prefecture is counted among the three largest festivals of Hakata City. During the festival period, more than 700 stalls line the 1km approach to the shrine gates, while many interesting events take place within the precincts of the shrine.
Each year sees more than a million visitors, and services are held for deceased pets, or other living creatures that were reluctantly killed during the festival period. The Hojo Ya is a gigantic event that rouses the enthusiasm of all of Fukuoka in autumn.