Festivals are an important part of Japan, and no matter where or when you go, there is sure to be a festival around the corner. Summer festivals are a favorite, but the other seasons have their fair share of entertainment as well. Here’s a look at a few interesting festivals coming up in November.
Date: November 1 – November 10
Location: Gion Kaikan Theater; 3 2 3 Kitagawa Gion-machi, Higashiyama-ku, Kyoto Prefecture 605-0073
Come to the famed Gion district to see beautiful maiko and geisha performing unique and complex dances. During these days, crowds gather quickly to anticipate the renowned dancers. In addition to the performances, visitors can try on kimono, learn about tea houses, and play traditional Japanese games. The colorful fall foliage also makes a great backdrop as you wander through the old quarters of Kyoto.
Date: November 2 – November 3
Location: Sennichi-cho, Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture 892-0843
This is the largest fall festival in the area, and huge crowds gather every year. Parades, festivities, and more than 20,000 dancers move through the streets, creating fun and excitement for everyone. Most of the action takes place in Tenmonkan, the popular downtown shopping area. Not only do people come to see dancers dressed in traditional garb and performing local, traditional dances, they can even join in!
Date: November 7 (Kifune Shrine location) and November 8 (Fushimi Inari Shrine location)
Location: Kifune Shrine; 180 Kuramakibune-cho, Sakyo Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 601-1112 & Fushimi Inari Shrine; 68 Fukakusa Yabunouchi-cho, Fushimi Ward, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture 612-0882
The name Ohitaki uses the characters for “fire” and “burn”, so suffice to say, it is a fire festival of sorts. The festival at Kifune Shrine starts with a fire ritual used to exorcise evil spirits and thank the gods for a good harvest. At Fushimi Inari Shrine, thousands of prayer sticks are burnt as an offering. This is to ensure a prosperous future as well as to give thanks for the year’s harvest.
Date: November 15
Literally translated as “7 5 3”, which are considered lucky numbers, this is an important festival celebrating young children. The numbers refer to the ages of the children; specifically, girls aged 3 or 7 and boys aged 3 or 5. On this special day, people across the country dress up their appropriately aged children in fine kimono and accessories. They then make their way to the shrines to pray for their children’s health, happiness, and growth. To mark such an important occasion, families take many photographs and it is common to see framed portraits of children dressed up in their finest.
Date: November 23
Location: Hofu Tenman-gu Shrine; 14-1 Matsuzaki-cho, Hofu, Yamaguchi Prefecture 747-0029
Finally, here’s a very interesting and well-known event. Hadakambo means “naked person”, and this event is commonly referred to as one of numerous naked festivals. Rest assured though, the participants are dressed. Mostly. During this event, groups of men wearing only traditional loincloths carry large floats through the streets of Hofu all the way to Hofu Tenman-gu Shrine. The shrine itself is also a popular attraction, being one of the main shrines dedicated to Tenjin, the god of scholarship.