Lantern Festival and More Amazing August Events!

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A lantern festival in Japan.

In Japan, the atmosphere of August festivals is always filled with joy and excitement, making them a perfect opportunity for families. You can go to a vibrant lantern festival or energetic dance competitions, show the power of music and cultural exchange, bringing together people of all ages and backgrounds for a joyful summer celebration. Let’s explore five must-visit events in Japan this summer!

Yanai Goldfish Lantern Festival (Mid August)

Every August, the Yanai Goldfish Lantern Festival (Yanai Kingyo Chochin Matsuri) is celebrated in Yanai, a charming town in Yamaguchi for its unique and colorful goldfish lanterns. This lantern festival transforms the town into a glowing wonderland. Approximately 4,000 goldfish lanterns light up the area, especially around the JR Yanai Station and the historic Shirakabe no Machi area. The tradition of these lanterns dates back to the Edo period (1603-1868), inspired by the lanterns from the Aomori’s Hirosaki Neputa Matsuri. 

The Yanai Goldfish Lantern Festival.
Yanai has some of the most famous lanterns in the area. Image via Cool Japan

The lantern festival features a parade with nearly 30 giant goldfish lanterns carried by local men while children sit inside. Additionally, there’s a fun competition to see who can spin their lantern the fastest, all accompanied by lively music and dancing. This lantern matsuri includes festive food stalls and a spectacular fireworks display to end the night.

Shops in the area sell goldfish lanterns, typically made from washi paper and bamboo. Their intricate designs and bright colors make them delightful souvenirs. Visitors can also enjoy workshops where they can paint their lanterns to take home.

Domannaka Festival (Late August)

The Domannaka Festival, also known as Domatsuri, occurs in Nagoya annually. This is the biggest dance festival in the Chubu region. The first Domatsuri started in 1999, thanks to some college students who dreamed of creating a lively dance event. It began with only 26 teams and 1,500 performers. It has grown to 210 teams and more than 20,000 performers, attracting over a million viewers. 

The Domannaka Festival at night.
This is the largest dance festival in central Japan! Image via Wikimedia

In Domatsuri, each dancer must use a naruko (wooden clapper) and include a local folk tune from their home area in their music. Not to mention, their performance is a unique mix of dance, music, and costumes that reflect different cultures. The main stage is at Hisaya Odori Park, but performances happen all over Nagoya, making the whole city come alive. Furthermore, visitors can also join in the fun with Souodori, a joyful activity inviting everyone to move along. The final contest is a major highlight, where the best dance team wins the Domatsuri Award.

Sado Earth Celebration (August 16-18)

The Sado Earth Celebration is an annual music event hosted by the world-renowned Kodo taiko group on Sado Island, Niigata. Every year, this vibrant celebration draws thousands of visitors from across Japan and around the globe to the scenic town of Ogi. It kicked off in 1988 and has become a symbol of cultural exchange and celebration on Sado Island.

A performance with confetti at the Sado Earth Celebration.
Taiko drums are the main attraction at this event! Image via Gaijin Pot

The main attraction is their mesmerizing evening outdoor concerts at Ogi Harbor’s Harbour Market. This is because the Kodo taiko group performs dynamic taiko drumming alongside guest artists from different cultures. During the day, visitors can enjoy exploring the bustling Harbor Market with its shops and food stands offering local cuisine and crafts.

Kiyose Sunflower Festival (August 6-13)

The Kiyose Sunflower Festival has been an exciting annual event held in Kiyose City, Tokyo, every summer since 2008. This event also boasts the largest sunflower field in Tokyo, spanning approximately 24,000 square meters. More than 100,000 gorgeous sunflowers bloom here, creating a stunning sight. 

A field of sunflowers at the Kiyose Sunflower Festival.
You can lose yourself in the sea of sunflowers! Image via Timeout Tokyo

However, this isn’t just about enjoying the blossoms; it’s also a celebration of summer and local agriculture. The tall sunflowers make a beautiful setting for activities like a photo contest and performances by local artists. Local farmers also join in, selling fresh vegetables and sunflowers at market stalls.

Chofu Yosakoi (August 24)

Chofu Yosakoi is a lively dance event annually in Chofu City, Tokyo. It features 33 Yosakoi teams showcasing their spirited performances along a parade route from Chofu Station to Fuda Station. Participants dance with colorful costumes and lively music, creating a festive atmosphere.

Women in green costumes wearing Chofu Yosakoi.
Yosakoi is a high-energy traditional Japanese dance. Image via Let’s Enjoy Tokyo

Activities start in the afternoon and continue into the evening, ending with a big finale where 10,000 people dance together. Beyond the captivating dances, the matsuri offers a variety of delicious traditional foods such as ikayaki (grilled squid), oden (stewed fish cakes and veggies), yakisoba (Japanese stir-fried noodles), and kakigori (shaved ice). Refreshing drinks like soft drinks and beer are also available to keep everyone hydrated and in high spirits.

Why should I go to events such as a lantern festival?

You should go to these August events because they are fun and exciting for everyone! From the magical Yanai Goldfish Lantern Festival, where thousands of glowing goldfish lanterns light up the town, to the lively Domatsuri in Nagoya, each event offers a unique cultural experience. 

The lantern festival at Gion.
Which festivals do you want to go to this August? Image via Shutterstock

Moreover, you can also marvel at the stunning sunflowers at the Kiyose Sunflower Festival or feel the rhythm at the Sado Earth Celebration with its dynamic taiko drumming. And don’t miss the colorful Yosakoi dances in Chofu, filled with energy and cheerful music. Overall, these festivals celebrate tradition, creativity, and community spirit. Share your thoughts in the comments below, and tell us which event you’re most excited about!

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