Introducing 10 Japanese Traditional Festivals in September 2019

Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri

September in Japan is a transition month between Summer and Autumn, so the month offers both the last of summer festivals as well as lively fall celebrations. From a city-wide game of tug of war to a notoriously dangerous danjiri float racing festival, here are the top 10 must-see events in Japan in September 2019!

1. Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine Grand Festival (藤崎八旛宮秋季例大祭)

This festival is held every year in September for 5 days, with the last day being on Japan’s Respect for the Aged Day holiday. In this festival of Fujisaki Hachikei Palace, the highlight is the grand procession of armored warriors, decorated war horses, and portable shrines.

WHERE: Fujisaki Hachimangu Shrine, Kumamoto City, Kumamoto Prefecture

WHEN: September 13 – 17, 2019

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2. Hojoya Festival (放生会)

One of Hakata’s three major festivals, this is a popular festival where hundreds of stalls are lined up during the 7-day festival period. For over 1000 years, this festival has been held to pray for the spirits of all living beings, devoting gratitude, praying for further business prosperity, and home security.

WHERE: Hakozakigu Shrine, Fukuoka City, Fukuoka Prefecture

WHEN: September 12 – 18, 2019

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3.  Itoman Tug-of-War (糸満大綱引き)

This festival is held every year on August 15th of the Lunar New Year Calendar, which is typically in mid-September. The festival is held to pray for rich fruit, large catch, home safety, and disease-free life. Representing the fertility of fruit, male and female ropes are bound together for a game of tug of war. The winner will determine the luck of the harvest for the year.

WHERE: Itoman Rotary Roundabout, Itoman City, Okinawa

WHEN: September 13, 2019

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4.  Kishiwada Danjiri Matsuri (岸和田だんじり祭)

This festival is held every year on the weekend before Respect for the Aged day in September. Nationally regarded as one of the rowdiest festivals in Japan, this 300-year-old festival consists of neighborhoods vying for glory by racing 4-ton “danjiri” floats and around the city. Standing on top of the elaborately carved floats are musicians and dancers, who are forced to hold on for their lives as the men supporting the floats turn sharp corners.

WHERE: Namikiri Shrine, Kishiwada area, Osaka Prefecture

WHEN: September 14 – 15, 2019

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5. Tsurugaya Hachimangu Shrine Annual Festival (鶴谷八幡宮例大祭)

The Tsurugaya Hachimangu Shrine Annual Festival is the biggest festival in the Awa district, and it boasts of having a tradition of over a thousand years. Known locally as “Yawatanmachi”, this festival features a lively procession of portable mikoshi shrines, massive dashi floats, and other boat floats that are carried around the neighborhood. This festival is held every year on the Saturday and Sunday before the Respect for the Aged Day holiday, and draws around 100,000 people every year.

WHERE: Tsurugaya Hachimangu Shrine, Tateyama City, Chiba Prefecture

WHEN: September 14 – 15, 2019

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6. Hoze Festival (小浜放生祭)

This festival is held every year on a weekend in early to mid September. It is the biggest autumn festival in the Wakasa district, and dates back to 300 years ago. A massive float car, a big drum, and other attractions are paraded around the city. The people then enter the temple at Yahata Shrine and demonstrate traditional performing arts.

WHERE: Hachiman Shrine, Obama City, Fukui Prefecture

WHEN: September 14 – 15, 2019

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7. Crying Baby Sumo Festival (生子神社の泣き相撲)

This festival is held every year on the Sunday that follows September 19th. It features a traditional event held in the ring of Ikiko Shrine to pray for the healthy growth of children and a disease-free society. Sumo wrestlers step into the ring with an infant child in their arms. They then swing the infant from the east to the west, then with a shout, raise it over their head 3 times, competing to see which infant lets out the greatest cry.

WHERE: Ikiko Shrine, Kanuma City, Tochigi Prefecture

WHEN: September 22, 2019

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8. Aizu Festival (会津まつり)

This festival offers several sights and parades, including a lantern parade, costume parade, and more. One notable event is the “Aizu Clan Parade” which is composed of about 500 people who walk a procession dressed as warriors.

WHERE: Tsuruga Castle, Aizuwakamatsu City, Fukushima Prefecture

WHEN: September 22, 2019

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9. Sendai Great Tug-of-War (川内大綱引)

This event is held every year on September 22nd. Approximately 3,000 young people (1,500 on each side) hold the massive main line of rope, which is 365 meters in length, 40 cm in diameter and 7 tons in weight. Each team heaves and tugs with all of their might in this spectacular display of tug-of-war.

WHERE: Mukoda-cho, Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture

WHEN: September 22, 2019

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10. Ōhara Naked Festival (大原はだか祭り)

After a group of 18 mikoshi (portable shrines) have been gathered together at Ohara fishing port, men dressed in mere loincloths carry the shrines across the Shiota River, then move to Ohara Beach and enter the sea. This is a lively, physically demanding ritual done annually in order to pray for rich fruit and big catch.

WHERE: Ohara Beach Resort, Isumi City, Chiba Prefecture

WHEN: September 23 – 24, 2019

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For more festivals and events going on in Japan, check out our full September calendar here.

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