5 Great Winter Festivals in Nagano

December 9th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Information, Seasonal Topics

Enjoy fire festivals, illuminations and more in this winter wonderland.

Winter is here. Snow is falling steadily up in the mountains and people around Nagano are bringing out their kotatsu tables, kerosene heaters and nabe pots. Once again, it’s that time of year for skiing, hot springs and great winter festivals. Why stay inside when you could warm up in front of a magnificent fire festival or in the company of Japan’s many spirits?

Make some wonderful memories this winter with some of the festivals below!
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Impressions of the Onbashira Festival

July 13th, 2016 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Report

Locals watch as the first pillar is lifted into place at the Harumiya shrine.

The Onbashira festival is finally at an end. After months of preparation and twelve long days of labor, the sixteen onbashira pillars have reached their resting places at the corners of the four shrines of Suwa Taisha.

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Nagano’s Top Cherry Blossom Spots

March 4th, 2016 by
Category: Events, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

(This blog post is originally from 2016, so dates and bus schedules are subject to change.)

Cherry blossoms and snow make a beautiful pair.

Spring is on its way and that means it’s time to break out those blue tarps, make some rice balls and drink plenty of local beer and sake. It’s cherry blossom viewing time! There are a lot of beautiful spots to enjoy them here in Nagano prefecture, where the mountains add a beautiful touch of white to the spring scenery. Who knew you could see sakura and snow at the same time?

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Winter 2016 Illuminations and Festivals

January 29th, 2016 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Areas of Nagano prefecture are getting ready for a series of festivals in February, and in that spirit I thought I would put together a list of current and upcoming events for the Winter season. Tear yourself away from the ski resorts for a night and visit some of Nagano’s other scenic spots!

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Zenkoji Hana Kairo Flower Festival 善光寺花回廊

April 25th, 2014 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Experience, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics

Come out to Nagano City and see the flower canvases and tapestry gardens! These works of art are created using flower petals. Various ‘flowers’ are waiting to meet you!

Date: May 3rd (Sat)-May 5th (Sun) 2014

Place: Nagano-City, Chuo-dori (Shinden-cho, from Toigo-machi to Nishigo-machi, Higashigo-machi to Daimon-machi), Gondo Arcade and Gondo Plaza, Tokyu Dept Store

20th Roukaku Plum Garden Flower Festival

April 1st, 2014 by
Category: Events, Experience, Information, Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Dates: April 5th (Sat)-12th, 2014 (festival events on 4/5 and 4/6)

Place: Roukaku Bai-en, Shinshu-Shinmachi, Nagano-City

長野市信州新町「ろうかく梅園」

In early April spring returns to Nagano as the snow finally melts away. Come see nearly 600 plum trees in blossom during the festival and fragrance fills the air as people gather to enjoy the relaxing Shinshu spring.

 

30th Hijiri-Sanzengoku Festival 大岡 第30回ひじり三千石まつり

July 17th, 2013 by
Category: Events, Experience, Outdoor Activities

Ever wanted to catch a fish by hand? Come out to Oooka during O-bon and try  catching iwana (mountain trout) by hand, watch a taiko performance and support the local economy by purchasing locally made specialty products. This picturesque hamlet is a scenic drive from Nagano City and provides great views of the Northern Alps on a clear day. Escape the humidity in the city and head out to the mountains!

Date: August 14, 2013 (Wednesday) 9:30am until 2pm (cancelled only if there is heavy rain)

Place: Nagano city, Oooka Hijiri-shinsui Kouen (長野市大岡ひじり親水公園)

Access:

By Taxi: 30 minute taxi from Shinonoi Station

By Car: 20km (30min) drive from Omi I.C. (麻績)

an Aftermath of Ombe-Gods-Festival

January 13th, 2013 by
Category: Information
scattered rubbish?

It’s a beautiful morning on the 13th January.

But what are these?  Scattered rubbish in our sun streamed ‘engawa’, the in-house veranda?

No, the pieces of paper are from last night’s visit by the Ombe Gods.

Near the midnight last night, the paper made Ombe Gods, ‘Ombe’ being an ancient word for a piece of paper or a card, visited my house along with all the other households in our region.

It is a New year’s greetings from our regional God.

 

They are a pair of a big Onbe for adults & a small Ombe for children which are carried by men and boys who ran through the chilly and frozen night visiting every household from door to door.

When the shouting of the boys and the sound of the drum came nearer, I settled myself ready and sat at the veranda waiting for those messengers of Gods’ to come.

Then came running a local young man with big Ombe God, greeting me,”Omedeto!”, which means celebrations, followed by a 6th grader boy with smaller Ombe god shouting the same thing, followed by several smaller boy messengers throwing me the pieces of paper dropped off from the Gods.

Last night, for the first time ever, one of the smallest boys put the paper dutifully ON my lap, for which I somehow felt very warm!

scattered everywhere

This Ombe festival is dutifully succeeded by elementary school boys in my region on every 12th January.

After carried all through the region, the Gods are settled at a small shrine till the 14th, when they are to put up on to a high pole, eventually to be removed on the 8th February.

finally settled & enshrined

finally settled & enshrined

 

Onsen Town Togura-Kamiyamada’s Summer Festivals 2012

June 15th, 2012 by
Category: Culture Art, Events, Onsens (Hot Springs), Outdoor Activities, Seasonal Topics, Sightseeing

Our onsen town Togura-Kamiyamada’s 2 biggest events are coming up: the Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival and the Chikuma River Fireworks. The 2012 Dates for the two are as follows.  (Note:  Access is via Togura Station on the Shinano Railway line.)

Kamiyamada Onsen Summer Festival 2012: July 14-15
Saturday is more for us locals, with neighborhood parades and official ceremonies including the Geta Offering run by us members of the ryokan junior association.
Sunday is more for tourists, with a massive 50-person shi-shi lion and omikoshi shrines carried by groups of sweaty guys and gals, with the backdrop of a taiko drum performance and a fireworks display launched from the mountain behind town. You will never see so much intense energy in one spot anywhere else in Japan.

That's me with one of the "O-Mikoshi" parade shrines at last year's festival

Chikuma River Fireworks Display 2012: August 7th.
Northern Nagano’s largest fireworks show take place above the picturesque Chikuma River. Get up close for an awe-inspiring view as the brilliant flashes reflect off the surface of the river and the ‘boom’ of the explosions bounce off the surrounding mountains.

Fireworks over the Chikuma River

Special Multilingual Promotion for Matsumoto Taiko Drum Festival (July 30-31) and Iida Puppet Festival (August 4-7)

July 28th, 2011 by
Category: Events, Information

Leaflet of Taiko Drum Festival

Taiko Drum Festival at Matsumoto Castle will be held this weekend (July 30, 31) and Iida Puppet Festival will be held next week (August 4-7).
Taiko Drum festival is very popular among local foreign regidents and Iida Puppet Festival is now a large international puppet event (400 shows will be performed at 120 venues and 40,000 attendants will enjoy them!).

We made multilingual (English, French, Korean, Chinese, Thai) leaflets of the two events this year. You can get it in TICs, some hotels, and Narita Airport. Otherwise, you can download PDF files.
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