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Local Japanese Festivals

Japan has hundreds of local festivals and it is commonly said that one can always find a festival somewhere in Japan anytime. Due to its small scale and location-bound significance, many of these local festivals remain largely unknown outside the prefecture. 

The following are the local festivals that you can find in Kashihara. If you happen to be around in the area during one of the festival days, do check them out!

For up-to-date information on each event, please refer to our Facebook page.

Search via month: April | May | June | July | August | September | October

 Kokuzo-san (Kokuzo Bosatsu Memorial Service)

April 01, Hojuin Temple

Hojuin Temple is dedicated to one of the 8 great bodhisattvas, Ākāśagarbha (Japanese pronounciation: Kokuzo Bosatsu), whose wisdom is said to be boundless. As such, people visit this temple to pray for wisdom or success in studies.

Every year a big memorial service, Homa ritual (burning wood at an altar to invoke divine help) and throwing of rice cakes to attendees are carried out.

Kokuzo1 Kokuzo2 Kokuzo3

 Senzuka Festival

First Sunday of April, Niizawa-Senzuka Tumuli

A memorial service for those entombed in the tumuli as well as a prayer service for the welfare of those living in the town will be held.

Senzuka1 Senzuka2

 Yatsuri Jizo-Bostatsu Spring Memorial Service

Forth Sunday of April, Kofukuji Temple

One of four big memorial services held by the temple annually. During these sessions, religious lectures are conducted. All services begin at 10.30 am.

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 Nerikuyo (Buddhist ceremonial parade)

May 03, Kumedera Temple

Also known as 'Kume-renzo', this annual event is held before the Spring agricultural season kicks off. A temporary bridge spanning approximately 100m will be constructed leading out of the Main Hall and on this bridge, 25 Bodhisattva will parade across it in an re-enactment of the ascension of Chujo-hime, sometimes called the Japanese Cinderella, who was a devoted nun.

Folktale has it that upon her passing, Chujo-hime was accompanied into the afterlife by 25 Bodhisattva. Scriptures will be read before the ceremonial parade starts. The azaleas within the precint will also be welcoming its peak blossom around the first week of May.

Neri1 Neri2 Neri3

 Mizushi Kannon Flower Festival

Second Sunday of May, Myohoji Temple

This temple is associated with Kibi no Asomi Makibi, a scholar and nobleman during the Nara Period who was notably credited for introducing the game of Go and embroidery to Japan. 

Held every year on Mother's Day, the service includes a traditional costume kids parade and sutra reading. Artifacts owned by the temple will also be on display for public viewing and rice cakes will be scattered.

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 Shaka Shaka Festival

June 05, Jobonji-cho

This festival is said to be a memorial for a giant snake spirit who was evicted by villagers in the past. It is also a ritual to pray for good harvest and no floods.

Children will don on happi (traditional Japanese coats) and carry a 6 to 7 meters long straw snake down the streets. The ritual will end with the snake being secured to a nettle tree (considered sacred in Japan) and offered sacred wine.

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 Sumomo-no-Kojinsan

June 28, Shoko-cho

A Japanese god that represents violent forces turned toward the good of mankind, this early summer festival devoted to Kojinsan is held annually to pray for fire prevention and traffic safety. It has been said that wearing yukata to this festival will ward off evil.

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 Dainichi-san (Memorial service for Dainichi-Nyorai)

July 15, Shorenji Temple

Shorenji Temple is dedicated to Dainichi Nyorai (the celestial Buddha, Vairocana), whose death anniversary falls on 15 July.

Annually on this day, the summer festival “Dainichi-san” will be held whereby street stalls will be opened and the temple’s principal object of worship, a 2m tall Dainichi Nyorai statue, will be available for public viewing. This statue, believed to be made in the mid-15th century, is a country-designated important cultural property.

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 Densoso Festival

July 28, Unebiyamaguchi Shrine

The word “Densoso” originates from the sound of beating Japanese drums and this summer ritual revolves around the act of drawing and offering sacred water. In the past, farmers aim to complete farming activities by this date as it is said to be taboo to enter the fields once the Taiko drums resonate.

It is also said that children who lose weight easily during summer will be blessed if they wear cotton padded coats to the event. In the evening, Bon dance and karaoke session will also be held at the shrine.

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 Horanya Fire Festival

August 15, Kasugajinja Shrine & Hachimanjinja Shrine (Higashibojo-cho)

This bustling festival was designated by Nara Prefecture as an intangible cultural asset in March 1982.

Over 16 big and small torches will be lit and carried around the grounds of both shrines. The big torches have a diameter of 1.5 meters, are 3 meters tall and weigh more than 450kg. The procession will first be carried out at Kasugajinja Shrine before moving to Hachimanjinja Shrine, both in Higashibojo-cho.

The ceremony is held to pray for rain, protection against epidemic & pests. In its longstanding history, there was one year in which this festival did not took place and in that year, diseases were rampant. Henceforth, the festival has been held every year without fail. 

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 Atago Festival

August 23-25, Yagi-cho

The Atago faith in Shintoism is dedicated to the deity of fire in Japanese mythology, Kagutsuchi. Believers pray to him to ward off fire-related disasters. Originating from Kyoto's Atago Shrine, it spread worldwide through followers who visit the shrine for ascetic practices.

A festival with over 400 years of history, over 38 mini shrines around Yagi-cho are dedicated to this worship. This is perhaps why there are few fire incidents in Yagi-cho, allowing the streets to retain its traditional charm. Alongside street stalls, carnival games and special exhibits called Tateyama, stage performances will also take place every evening at a local elementary school.

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 Children Sumo

September 15, Mihashirajinja Shrine

Held annually at Mihashihrajinja Shrine along Kashiwate-cho, boys living within the district and aged elementary school level and below, will take part in this traditional event held to foster harmony among residents and to pray for good health and offsprings. 

Winners will be presented with a handcrafted wooden wand (known as gohei in Japanese), which is generally kept as a family heirloom.

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 Moto-Yakushiji Festival

Second Monday of October, Ruins of Moto-Yakushiji Temple

The former site of Yakushiji Temple, now at Nishinokyo in Nara City, the ruins is a national historic site. Only the foundation stones of the Gold Hall and mounds which the pagodas used to stand on, remains.

This festival will revive an old burning ritual, Saito-ogomaku, which used to be carried out at the temple back in its glory days. 

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 Kume Sennin Festival

Sunday between October

This festival is dedicated to Kume Sennin, a legendary hermit who is able to fly. He lost his powers (though subsequently recovered them) after being enraptured by the calves of a young woman who was doing laundry along the river. The young woman eventually became his wife.

At the festival, Sennin Odori, a variant of the Bon Odori (Bon Festival dance), will be performed. Women in yukatas will dance around a scaffold while 3 people dressed up as Kume Sennin will attempt to lift up the hem of the women's summer kimono with a cane. 

As legend states that Kume Sennin lived till 186 years old, a praying session for longevity, protection against paralysis and good relationships will also be held. Attendees will be presented with a pair of blessed wooden chopsticks. 

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