fbpx
    • Spring
      • Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.

        Into the Mystic

        While you probably won’t encounter an elusive river sprite in the highlands of the Northern Japan Alps, you may feel a bit lightheaded from the refreshing thin air, remarkable vistas and mystical aura of the mountains and valleys in Kamikochi.
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...
    • Summer
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...
        A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • video

        Mad About Pow

        A powder pocket...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
        video

        Shuzenji Sanctuary

        Nestled in the ...
    • Near Tokyo
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Ark Hills Marche

        Tucked away in ...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!

        Summer Runs, Races & Tours

        Trail running is a great way to explore the beautiful nature of a country while getting away from the usual tourist spots.
    • Near Kyoto
      • A glass of beer from Kyoto Brewing

        Kampai! in Kansai

        Kansai has been...

        Music Festival Guide 2018

        Warmer months mean awesome music festivals in Japan. Check out our favorite music festivals!
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Return to Palau

        I am sitting in...

        Air it Out

        There is no bet...

        Nature and History in Shonai

        One of Tohoku’s six prefectures is Yamagata, located just north of Niigata Prefecture along the coast. It's a hidden gem for travelers in search of authentic cultural experiences and outdoor activities.
    • River and Lake
      • Air it Out

        There is no bet...
        video

        Niseko Untapped

        Niseko draws th...

        Minakami Mofest

        Head up to Japan's outdoor mecca of Minakami for the country's biggest outdoor adventure festival!
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
    • Travel
    • Food and Drinks
    • Races and Events

Matsuri: Sohei Festival

Red sparks dance against the jet black sky as a priest strikes a slow, steady beat on a taiko drum during the Sohei Matsuri in Yunoyama Onsen. The festival commemorates the courageous Tendai Buddhist monks who fought against the feudal system and their samurai for nearly 760 years, until Oda Nobunaga invaded in 1568 and burned the temple to the ground. Particularly magnificent is the sight of the warrior monks carrying the mikoshi around the onsen town with burning torches. There are drum performances and stalls selling hot sake and festival treats.

Yunoyama Onsen in Mie Prefecture is a great stop off between Kyoto and Nagoya. Visitors can enjoy strolling through the hot spring town, a soak in one of the rejuvenating onsens or exploring nearby Mt. Gozaisho, a beautiful 1,212-meter peak in the Suzuka Range. You can take the Gozaisho Ropeway up to the park, ski resort and hiking trails at the summit. 

Getting There: Yunoyama Onsen is best reached by bus or taxi from Yunoyama Onsen Station on the Kintetsu Line.

Winter Fire Festivals

Japanese fire festivals take place throughout the year, but some of the most exciting ones are held in winter to usher in the new year, ward off evil spirits and ask the gods for health and wealth. Witness this fantastic tradition up close (but not too close!).

Jan. 7: Oniyo Fire Festival
This 1,600-year-old festival is held to drive away evil spirits. Men clad in loincloths wield six enormous torches around the shrine grounds. Onlookers are said to be blessed with good luck if embers or ash from the torches fall on them. 
Where: Daizenji Tamataregu Shrine, Fukuoka

Jan. 14: Donto Matsuri
Locals bring traditional New Year decorations such as pine branches, sacred ropes and daruma to burn for good luck in the new year. 
Where: Sendai City, Miyagi

Jan. 15: Dosojin Fire Festival
Local men of a certain age have a duty to defend a seven-meter wooden shaden (shrine) from villagers attacking it with burning torches. It gets more frenzied as the evening progresses until everything goes up in flames.
Where: Nozawa Onsen Village, Nagano

Jan. 25: Wakakusa Yamayaki
This festival starts off with a bonfire at the base of Mt. Wakakusayama and fireworks. Afterwards, the fire is used to set grass on the mountainside alight. It takes around an hour for the fire to spread all across the mountain. 
Where: Mt. Wakakusayama, Nara

Feb. 6: Oto Festival
About 2,000 men dressed in white race down the steep stone stairs of Kamikura Shrine while wielding torches. It is said that this procession resembles a descending dragon. 
Where: Kamikura Shrine, Wakayama

Feb. 13-14: Hiburiki Kamakura Fire Waving Festival
This festival was originally a purification ritual to guard the villagers from sickness and famine. Amidst a snowy landscape, locals hold a rope attached to a blazing bag of charcoal and swing it in a wide circle around their bodies. 
Where: Senboku City, Akita

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Categories