Japan’s Winter Matsuri

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DISCOVER: Japan’s Winter Matsuri

Nowhere does festivals quite like Japan, with a mind-blowing number of matsuri bursting into noisy celebration each month throughout the country. And things don’t slow down as the winter months approach, with as many festivities during the cold dark days as in the warmer weeks of summer.

Read on for three not-to-be-missed fire and ice filled matsuri.

Chichibu Night Festival

Held at the Chichibu shrine – just 90 minutes from Tokyo – the Chichibu Night Festival is one of Japan’s most spectacular matsuri, lighting up the dark days of December with a myriad of ornate floats, thousands of lanterns and breath-taking firework displays (a rare sight during Japan’s winter months).

Chichibu Night Festival: each year on December 2nd and 3rd.

Image credit: John Asano, Gaijin Pot

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri

Hokkaido, Japan’s chilly northern isle, plays host to a snow-filled wonderland each February. Towering ice sculptures as far as the eyes can see, toboggan runs and a feast of local cuisine make the Sapporo Snow Festival well worth the long hike north for.

Sapporo Yuki Matsuri: Friday 31st January – Tuesday 11th February 2020.

Images: via jrailpass.com 

Oniyo Fire Festival

On 7th January each year, Daizenji near Fukuoka on the southern island of Kyushu, bursts into flame to celebrate the Oniyo Fire Festival. A 1600-year-old ceremony believed to banish evil spirits, the festival is one of Japan’s three largest and is a sight to behold, culminating in the burning of six thirteen-metre-long torches in the grounds of Daizenji shrine.

Oniyo Fire Festival: each year on January 7th.

Image via welcomekyushu.com

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