Shizuoka Winter Festivals

Festival Period: 15-16 December
This festival in the western part of the prefecture includes arrow, sword and fire dances. Akihasan Hongu Akiha Shrine has been well known since old days as the home of the God of fire protection. Many people visit here every year during the Akiha-no-Hi-Matsuri, or Fire Festival at Akiha Shrine held in December. From the nearby entrance, where a Torii stands, you can see downtown Hamamatsu, the Enshu Coast as well as the mountains of Mikawa and the Tenryu River.

The complex consists of mainly three areas. Mt. Akiha mountain top area has the upper shrine and near the upper shrine there is Shuyoji Temple showing Akiha-belief is Bhuddhism-Shinto hybrid. At the foot of Mt. Akiha is Lower Shrine. The climbing trail starts from Lower Shrine and takes about 1 and an half hours to the mountaintop Upper Shrine area about 860 meters above sea level.

Bow and arrow, sword, and fire dances are performed at Akiha Shrine and Shuyoji Temple. After the Shinto ritual, three kinds of solemn dances are performed by three dancers holding an archery, a sword and a torch respectively from 10 pm to 12 midnight. Especially the dance with a torch, about 1-meter long is very spectacular and worth seeing. At the Akiha Temple, a firewalking ceremony is performed where both believers and spectators celebrate the festival.
Address and Contact: Akiha Shrine and Shuyoji Temple 841 Harunocho Ryoke, Hamamatsu City (Hamamatsu-shi), Tenryu Ward, Shizuoka Prefecture 437-0626, Japan Tel: 053-985-0111 Fax: 053-85-0113

Website: http://www.akihasanhongu.jp/newpage1.html

Narcissus Festival, Shimoda City (Shimoda-shi)

Festival Period:
Held from mid-December through January when thousands of wild narcissus bloom on Cape Tsumekizaki.

Mt. Akiwa / Akiwa Temple Big Festival, Shizuoka City (Shizuoka-shi)

Festival Period: December 15-16
Akiwa Temple is worshipped as the god to get fire under control. The Shinto ceremony gHiwatarih in the evening of 16th is for the practitioners and participants to walk over not-completely-extinguished fire placed on the holy mount by bare foot to cleanse their dirty spirits.


Atami Plum Blossom Festival, Atami City (Atami-shi)

Festival Period: mid-Junuary to mid-March
Special events are scheduled on weekends.

Hina-no-Tsurushi Matsuri (hanged doll ornament festival), Higashi Izu-machi (Higashi-izu Town)

Festival Period: January 20 – March 31
From ancient days, the people of Inatori Onsen (hot spring) area, put up a pair of ornaments decorated with many kinds of dolls on both sides of the tiered stand for dolls on the Hinamatsuri (girlsf day festival) days with a wish of their childrens happiness.

Umezu Kagura (Shinto music and dance), Kawanehon Town (Kawanehon-cho)

Festival Period: Mid January
This is a traditional Shinto ceremony passed down from about 500 years ago. The ceremony is performed after Iwato Kagura, which is a well-known story of the age of gods. Sanpo-no-mai (three treasures dance), Tenno-no-mai (guardian godfs dance), Oni-no-mai (demonfs dance), etc., are dedicated to the gods. The Kagura is an intangible cultural heritage of Shizuoka Prefecture.

Nue Exorcising Festival, Izu-no-kuni City (Izunokuni-shi)

Festival Period: January 28
This is a Shinto ceremony for a new year to lustrate an evil and invite good luck, which was made after the story of Gen-Sanmi-Yorimasa (a high-ranking imperial guard in Heian Era) who fought off a monster, Nue, which had a head of monkey, a body of tiger and a tail of snake in Shishiiden.


Setsubun (Spring Equinox) Festival

Festival Period: February 3
The day before spring begins under the lunar calender. The occasion is marked by colorful ceremonies at the Sengen Shrine in Fujinomiya, Mishima Taisha, and many other famous shrines throughout the prefecture.

Minami Cherry and Rape Blossoms Festival, Minamiizu Town (Minamiizu-cho)

Festival Period: February 5 – March 10
The banks of Aono River in Shimokamo Onsen (hot spring) region is known for early flowering cherry trees, which make a magnificent contrast with the rape blossoms beneath the trunks. Various events are held during the period.

Daruma Doll Market of Bishamonten Festival, Fuji City (Fuji-shi)

Festival Period: January 7 – 9 by lunar calendar
This is a festival known for hosting one of three biggest Daruma Doll Markets in the country. Bishamonten is one of four guard gods who safeguard the principle of Buddhism and is worshipped as a god to provide a fortune of war. The gDaruma Doll Marketh is a feature of the festival and many Daruma dolls such as Suzukawa Daruma, made nearby, Joshu Daruma and Yakumo Daruma are sold and attracts 300,000 visitors.