Nagahama Hikiyama Festival

Celebrate children’s kabuki all over town in one of japan‘s three greatest float festivals

The Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is a vibrant and exciting event that takes place in mid-April in the Hikone area of Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture. This festival is dedicated to kabuki, a traditional form of Japanese theater, and is unique in that it showcases performances by children. The festival begins at Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine, but the festivities can be seen throughout the town.

The Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is a must-see event for anyone interested in Japanese culture and traditional performing arts. The festival offers a rare opportunity to witness children performing kabuki, a form of theater that is usually reserved for adult actors. The young performers, aged between five and twelve, spend their school holidays mastering kabuki performances, complete with costumes and makeup. They put on 40-minute plays that captivate the audience with their talent and dedication.

One of the highlights of the festival is seeing the floats, known as hikiyama, in action. These floats are not only decorative but also serve as portable stages for the kabuki performances. Four of the town’s hikiyama are chosen by lottery each year to be pulled through the streets, showcasing the child actors’ virtuoso show. The floats are intricately designed and adorned with beautiful decorations, making them a sight to behold.

In addition to the performances, visitors can also explore the Nagahama Hikiyama Museum to learn more about the history and tradition behind the festival. The museum houses a collection of floats and provides insight into the craftsmanship and artistry that goes into creating these elaborate structures. It is a great opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the festival and its significance in Japanese culture.

The Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is not only a local event but also a recognized UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage. Its inclusion on this prestigious list highlights the importance and value of preserving and promoting this unique cultural tradition. The festival has been celebrated for over 400 years and continues to be a source of pride for the communities in Nagahama.

To attend the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival, visitors can easily access Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine by train and then on foot or by taxi. The shrine is located in Nagahama, Shiga Prefecture, and can be reached by taking the Tokaido Shinkansen to Maibara. From there, visitors can take the Hokuriku Line to Nagahama, which is only a 15-minute ride. The shrine is approximately 15 minutes away from JR Nagahama Station on foot.

The festival takes place over two main days, April 14 and 15, but there are also events and activities happening throughout April. It is important to check for any updates or changes to the festival schedule, as it may be subject to change due to COVID-19 or other factors.

For those unable to attend the festival, the Nagahama Hikiyama Museum offers a chance to experience the tradition and learn about its history. The museum showcases the floats and provides detailed information about the festival, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the culture and heritage of Nagahama.

In conclusion, the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is a captivating and culturally significant event that celebrates the art of kabuki performed by children. It offers a unique opportunity to witness traditional Japanese theater and experience the vibrant atmosphere of a float festival. Whether you are interested in the performing arts, cultural heritage, or simply want to immerse yourself in the local traditions of Japan, the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival is an event not to be missed.

Address And Maps Location:

13-55 Miyamae-cho, Nagahama-shi, Shiga-ken

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