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Shimabara Castle Town HinameguriEvery year on March 3rd, Japanese people decorate their homes with traditional dolls to celebrate Girl's Day, also known as "Hinamatsuri" (the Dolls Festival) or "Momo-no-Sekku" (Peach Festival). Peaches symbolise perpetual youth and longevity, and in Nagasaki during this season you can find peach-shaped versions of the popular Nagasaki cake, 'Castella'. Residents and shops in Shimabara City mark the festival by setting out their treasured ornaments dressed in Heian-court outfits. So, come and get a glimpse of them while you stroll around the castle town of Shimbara, also known for its delicious food, hot springs and an abundance of fascinating historical sites.
Nagasaki Lantern FestivalBegun as a celebration of the Chinese New Year primarily by the Chinese merchants resident in Nagasaki, the Lantern festival has become a staple winter event in the city, and the largest of its kind in all of Japan.
Over 15,000 colorful lanterns and large art objects adorn the entire city; from Chinatown and Minato Park, to Chuo Park, Meganebashi (Spectacles Bridge), Kanko-dori Arcade in Hamanomachi, and many other locations throughout the city.
Throughout the event period, colorful attractions such as Chinese circus performances and dragon dancing are held around the clock at various locations and stages around the city.
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.
Hasami Spring Pottery FestivalFans and pottery-buyers fill the streets of the town during this festival, which features booths from over 100 porcelain producer and dealers. The obvious appeal of the event is the availability of choice items at a 30-40% price reduction, although another draw is the chance to discuss the art of pottery with fellow enthusiasts while searching for that special piece. The large weather-proof tented area allows shoppers to browse very comfortably. The festivities continue with potters-wheel and pottery-painting classes, a Hasami scenery photo contest, and a prize draw. Parking is available for over 1,200 cars for 500 yen per vehicle; the shuttle bus service from the parking lot is free of charge.
Mikawachi-Yaki Hamazen FestivalVisit the kilns of Mikawachi and discover the cozy scenery of the town. This event features painting and potter's wheel trial courses, and many others relating to porcelain. The highlight of the festival may be the auction, held three times a day. It gives enthusiasts a chance to grab a prized, rare item at a discounted price. An eatery with Shimabara's specialty noodles makes a debut here in Michikawa for the first time at this event this year.
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.
Iki Kagura (Shinto Theatrical Dance of Iki Island) Kagura is a religious performing art with a long tradition and history dating back to the Muromachi period. Differing from other regions, on Iki both the dance and music are performed only by the Shinto priests. In August and December, spectacular grand kagura performances are held at the shrine over a 7- to 8-hour timespan.
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.
Emukae Sentourou (Thousand Lantern) FestivalThis traditional event has been held for around 500 years. The centerpiece is truly a sight to behold: a tower of about 25m in height, decorated with hanging lanterns numbering about 3,300. It’s the tallest of its kind in all of Japan!
When evening comes, some 10,000 hanging lanterns are lit throughout the town, inviting you into a wondrous world of lights.
The beauty of Emukae is best experienced during this wonderful and brief festival of lights, happiness, and prayer.
The Emukae Sentoro festival also features an old Buddhist procession called the “mizukake Jizo matsuri.” Young kids take turns pouring fresh water over a wooden statue of Jizo, the guardian of children. The statue is then paraded through the village. It’s believed that children who pour water over the Jizo statue will be blessed with good health.
Shimabara Castle Takigi Noh (Bonfire Noh) There is an extensive history and culture of Noh theatre in Shimabara City. In order to protect and nurture this tradition, Shimabara Castle Bonfire Noh was revived in 1983, allowing the colorful culture of the Genroku period (late 17th – early 18th century) to be experienced once again.
The Spirit Boat Procession / ShourounagashiThe Spirit Boat Procession of Nagasaki is Japan's most-recognized traditional ceremony held for O-Bon, the festival honoring the spirits of ancestors. The distinctive feature of Nagasaki's O-Bon Festival is the lively parade of spirit boats which winds through the city, accompanied by a cacophony of firecrackers, as families send off the souls of the departed in colorful fashion, late into the night. Families often decorate the boats with designs reflecting their relative's hobbies and tastes, and the detailed design of the boats is a matter of pride for Nagasaki people. The scenes of the procession have even made appearances in songs and movies. (Movie links)
Shimbara Water Festival Shimabara Water festival will be held on the first weekend of August in Shimabara City, where the richabundant natural spring water has flowed throughfilled in the streets of former samurai residences in the old cast castle town since years gone by.with former samurai houses.
This festival is held to show the appreciation for the natural spring water and to make cultivate athe city rich in water and greenery.
There will be bamboo lanterns and art objects made of from gigantic traditional Japanese classic umbrellas, and lights all along the canal waterways through the castle town and former samurai residences.