The annual night time lantern festival of Nihonmatsu in Fukushima Prefecture is from the 4th to 6th of October and is one of the most spectacular events to see in Japan. It attracts 64,000 people mostly from the local area. The festival has a long history of over 300 years and is one of the 3 largest lantern festivals in Japan.
The festival begins in the daytime with priests giving a blessing and saying prayers at the local shrine. The lanterns are then lit with a sacred flame and the fun soon begins. As sunset falls 7 large floats that are up to 8 metres high and adorned with over 300 lanterns are pulled up and down the almighty hills of Nihonmatsu by locals in traditional attire. At the base of the floats are Taiko drummers and at the top are the shouters encouraging the crowds to join in with their chants of ‘wa-soi’.
Each float and support group at the festival has their own rhythm, beat and style. Along the streets the festival atmosphere is electric. People are in high spirits and there are endless stalls selling food and alcohol. By the end of the night, the guys who pull the unbelievably heavy floats are completely off their heads with the sins of sake!
Festival Dates and Times:
The festival is on 4th, 5th and 6th October, 2012.
The festival starts at 5:50 pm and finishes 11:30 pm on the 4th, Thursday.
On the 5th, Friday, the festival is from 8:35am until the afternoon.
On the 6th, Saturday, the festival begins at 5:30 pm until late at night.
To get to Nihonmatsu from Tokyo take the shinkansen or bullet train from Ueno to Koriyama then the local train to Nihonmatsu in the direction of Fukushima city.