Festivals


Here's information to keep you updated about festivals in Okayama or nearby. Festivals are awesome and celebrations of local culture. Keep an eye out for local festivals happening in your area, since sometimes you'll just happen to stumble upon them.

More information on Okayama festivals can be found here.

January
New Years Events- Not quite a festival, and nothing like back home. New year celebrations in Japan are a time to spend time with family, and to visit shrines and temples to pray/wish for a good year. At midnight, bells of Buddhist temples will be rung, while Shinto shrines provide a taste of sake and have open up displays for those who visit. Each temple and shrine may do something different depending on their size. The largest midnight shrine event is at Izumo Taisha in Shimane, a prefecture neighboring Okayama. The first shrine visit of the year is called Hatsumode, and festival booths pop up to feed the hungry pilgrims. Tip: Check out Okayama Saijo Inari Shrine.
Generally the 31st of December through the 3rd of January will be treated as a holiday. While larger shops will likely be open, expect most banks and public offices to be closed.

Archery Festival

February
Hinase Kaki Matsuri - A festival in the town of Hinase (日生町) involving food stalls creating dishes containing freshly harvested, and large, oysters. The main feature are the tents filled with hot coal barbecues to cook as many oysters as you can stomach. It's also a good time to try the amazing oyster dessert 'Kaki-fry soft cream'. Two large fried oysters stuck into vanilla soft serve ice cream, topped with soy sauce.

Hadaka Matsuri / The Naked Man Festival - In the cold of winter, hundreds upon hundreds of men dress in nothing more than a loincloth to battle over a stick on the steps of a shrine. This traditional event held in Saidaiji (西大寺) is a great spectacle to see, and an even greater experience if you enter it. Each year AJET helps many foreigners from all over Japan come to watch or become 'naked men' by organizing transport to and from the venue, along with providing safety tips and survival advice for those brave enough to enter the fray.
Click here to see the Naked Man Safety Information Page.

March
Hina Matsuri: Maniwa City

April
Tsuyama Cherry Blossom Festival: Held in Kakuzan Park on the first weekend of April. Kakuzan was the former site of Tsuyama Castle. Although the castle was dismantled during the Meiji reforms, the majestic walls still remain and have been planted with hundreds of cherry trees. With a bird's eye view of the city and the Chugoku Mountains to the North, it's a beautiful sight in the Spring.
May
June
Hotaru Matsuri - June is when the fireflies come out. A couple places have these festivals, though they tend to be smaller and are more convenient to get to by car. Places: Hokubo, Takahashi, Niimi

July

August
Okayama Momotaro Festival - The biggest festival in Okayama city. Taking place over a weekend on Saturday you will see teams of dancers performing the Uraja dance in selected areas, Saturday evening is when the fireworks display takes place, with good viewing along the Asahi river, or peaceful (but limited) viewing from within the Korakouen. Bring blankets or mats to sit down and enjoy a cool beer and some kushi-niku.
Sunday is the big parade of all the dance teams performing along the road from Okayama station towards Joypolis.
Expect to see many food stalls and other festival things throughout the streets and in the areas where the main events happen.

Obon Matsuri - August is the month for obon festivals, so these happen all over. Check to see if your town has a local one. Here are some other obon festivals as well:
  • Bitchu Matsuyama Bon Odori (Takahashi City)

September
October
Bizen-yaki Matsuri (2011: October 15th & 16th) - Bizen-yaki is a style of pottery using no glazing. The clay used is rich in iron which provides the typical colour of the pottery and provides it the strength. By using a variety of methods of wrapping and placement in the kiln, some pieces gain new and interesting textures and patterns.
The Bizen-yaki matsuri, held in Imbe (伊部) is a weekend for all the potters of the Bizen style to show off their wares, and for those who come, it's a chance to pick up some pieces at reduced prices, or see rarely displayed pieces. The festival is also a good time to try your hand at making a piece of Bizen pottery by hand. Just put your name down for a specific time at the pottery room on the top floor of the train station, go out and see the different stalls or eat some of the usual festival foods or local produce, and come back to get your hands dirty. If you make something good, you can even have it fired in a kiln and sent to your address to arrive around December.

Kamotaisai (Early October): A festival held in Kibichuo-cho, it involves many men carrying a portable shrine to a famous temple while drinking sake. It's generally a two-day event; one of the top 3 festivals in Okayama. More details here:Kamotaisai Festival

November
Yakage Samurai Parade

December