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The KanoukaenThe largest fire festival in all of Nagasaki features 200 participants in samurai warrior costume strolling through the blooming cherry trees of Tachibana Park with flaming torches in their hands. This practice is based on an illustrated story found in a historical scroll from over 400 years ago.
Isahaya Lantern River FestivalThis festival started as a memorial for the 630 victims of the Great Flood of Isahaya, which took place on July 25, 1957. The festival is a way to mourn the loss of life but also to promote the development of a safe and beautiful town. The combination of the 23,000 lanterns floating down the Honmyo River, 1,500 fireworks and the illumination of Spectacles Bridge is a fantastic sight.
Nagasaki Peace Memorial CeremonyThe Nagasaki Peace Memorial Ceremony is held on August 9th every year in memory of the victims of the second atomic bomb, near to the location where the bomb was dropped in the Matsuyama neighbourhood. The ceremony also helps to spread the prayer for everlasting world peace.
The ceremony is attended by family members of the victims along with many other Nagasaki citizens. The Peace Declaration made by the Mayor of Nagasaki City delivers Nagasaki's wish for the establishment of lasting world peace and the abolition of nuclear weapons to local government within Japan, and beyond to the leaders of UN countries and to the rest of the world.
Summer Festival in Nishi ArieThis event takes place every year on the 25th of July inside the compound of the Tenmangu Shrine. A cogon grass ring is prepared through which people pass as a summer purification rite and hope for sound health. Along the approach to the shrine, there is free somen nagashi (somen noodles have to be caught with the chopsticks while they’re flowing down in the water inside a long bamboo stock) offered and other night stalls that sell local food.
Summer Festival in ArieTraditionally every year on the 29th and 30th of July a summer festival takes place at Arie Onsen Shrine. The main event happens on the 29th, where participants pray for good health and the stalls in the shrine’s compound sell their goods. On the stage, local artists perform live and many participants proudly show their vocal talent at the karaoke competition. A lottery and other fun activities contribute to create an even more festive atmosphere. This summer festival has been very popular amongst its town people since old times.
Breweries Tour Festival in ArieThe town of Arie in Minami-Shimabara has flourished since the old times whilst being known as the “place of the village headman”. Arie’s sake & miso breweries, somen noodle factories and brick factories are part of the town’s industrial heritage. Many shrines, temples and Christian tombstones found in this area prove its historical heritage. All in all, this town preserves an old and nostalgic atmosphere where you can experience a time slip.
The aim of the “Breweries Tour Festival in Arie” is to hand down this heritage to future generations whilst revitalizing the local economy. This event features fresh made sake tasting, a display of the girl’s festival doll decorations in spring and a classical concert in autumn, a tour of the breweries and their gardens, treasure hunting, a lottery and more.
Festivitas Natalis (Christmas Festival) in Kita ArimaAbout 400 years ago in Kita Arima for the first time in Japan, a secondary education school called “Seminario of Arima” was instituted by the Jesuit missionaries. The main theme of Festivitas Natalis is the celebration of the relationship between Japan and Europe based on the Christian history that flourished in Kita Arima in the 16th century. Japan’s tallest Christmas trees (two trees, each 30 meters high) are placed at the venue to create a warm Christmas atmosphere through their colorful lights and decorations.
This event proudly celebrates the memory of the cultural exchange between Japan and Europe, where Christianity spread even before it reached Nagasaki City’s Dejima Port.
Lively Summer Festival in FutsuLocal taiko (traditional Japanese percussion) groups gather at Konpira Park and with their powerful and vibrant performance they intend to expel noxious bad spirits and cheer up those who suffer from the summer heat. Besides that, there are other fun activities as well such as tasting of Shimabara’s specialty, tenobe (hand-stretched) somen noodles; eel catching, a shaved ice eating contest, a lottery, and more. The festival ends with fireworks that glitter in the summer night sky. People returning home for the summer particularly enjoy their time spent at this festival.
Hara Castle Revolt FestivalHara Castle was main stage of the Shimabara-Amakusa Rebellion where local peasants rose up against their oppressors. Seen as a Christian revolt, the shogunate spared no expenses at crushing it. Around early April, a lantern memorial parade is held to mourn the 40,000 victims of the revolt, and to commemorate Hara Castle. In the early afternoon, local high school students perform a play narrating the battle of the entrenched riot group led by Amakusa Shiro, fighting against the army of the Shogunate with the final collapse of the castle. The main festival begins with the lighting of 40,000 candles to pay respects to the 40,000 victims.These candle lights, previously installed on the ground around the castle create a profound and moving atmosphere. A 15 meter high wooden castle made locally, is the symbol of this festival and it completes the magical night view with its illumination.
Konpira Park Festival in FutsuThe Konpira Shrine was constructed to pray for the safe voyage of boats, and the tranquility of the sea enroute. Before the Second World War, local annual events took place at Konpira Park. After the war these events got canceled, however in 1995 thanks to volunteers they have come back into being. In 1970 this area was nominated as a Prefectural Natural Park and selected as one of the top 10 views on the Shimabara Peninsula. During this festival you can enjoy taiko (traditional Japanese percussion) performances and participate in karaoke competitions. Stalls sell local fresh fish and vegetables, as well as konpira manju (a bun filled with a sweet bean paste). This festival takes place twice a year, in Spring and in Autumn.
"Church Week in Kamigoto" Church ConcertsTwo hundred and fifty years of persecution could not douse the flames of devotion as shown by the twenty-nine churches that now stand on the islands that comprise Shinkamigoto Town today. In December, the churches light up with colourful illuminations at dusk in celebration of the festive season. Shinkamigoto also plays host to Church Week - a week of evening concert performances hosted at a few selected churches every year before Christmas. Professional performers are invited to the island and grace the audience with Christian classics. No matter your religion, this celebration is bound to move listeners as they bask in the music that fill the halls of these churches that are living testament to the suffering and strength of the Christian faith in Nagasaki. This period is also an opportune time to visit a World Heritage Site contender - Kashiraga Island Church - one of the twenty-nine churches on the island.