Utsurobune 虚舟: The UFO phenomenon in Japan
5 de September de 2023
magic anime
TOP 20 best magic anime not to be missed in 2024
7 de September de 2023
- Advertising -

Explore the magic of Nihonmatsu lantern festival

The Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival (Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival 二本松灯籠まつり) is a traditional event held in the city of Nihonmatsu, located in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.

This festival has a long history and is an important part of the local culture.

Read on and discover the:

“Enlightened Treasures: Exploring the Magic of the Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival in Japan” .

nihonmatsu lantern festival

Origin and history of the Nihonmatsu lantern festival

The Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival, approximately 370 years old, was initiated by the lord of Nihonmatsu Castle in the past.

When he took over the government of the Nihonmatsu area, he wished to ensure the loyalty and unity of the local people by showing them his piety and religious devotion.

With this purpose in mind, he decided to initiate a Shinto festival that could be attended by people of all social statuses, regardless of their position or status.

The Shinto Nihonmatsu lantern festival became an opportunity for the community to come together and actively participate in the festivities.

The occasion was meant to be inclusive, encouraging the participation of everyone from members of the nobility to local farmers and merchants. This generated a sense of equality and unity in the city, fostering social cohesion and a sense of belonging.

One of the central aspects of the Nihonmatsu lantern festival was the lanterns that were lit to illuminate the nights, creating a magical and festive atmosphere.

These lanterns were a tangible manifestation of religious devotion and shared hope for a prosperous future. Over time, the lantern tradition took root in the community, becoming an annual celebration that has endured to this day.

Nihonmatsu’s main shrine, the Nihonmatsu-jinja, became the epicenter of the festival, with festivities centered around

The processions, ceremonies and rituals performed at the shrine added a religious and spiritual dimension to the event, accentuating the sense of transcendence and connection with the divine.

Over the centuries, the Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival has evolved and continued to be an integral part of the identity and cultural heritage of the city of Nihonmatsu.

The devotion and spirit of the lord of Nihonmatsu Castle have left an indelible mark on the community and ensured that the tradition is passed down from generation to generation.

Today, the festival continues to attract visitors from far and wide, who have the opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the lanterns, participate in the festivities and witness the rich history and cultural legacy of Nihonmatsu.

When is the Nihonmatsu lantern festival?

The Nihonmatsu lantern festival is held every year on the 1st Saturday, Sunday and Monday of October.

The highlight or hot spot of the festival is the lantern festival float procession that occurs during the 1st night.

The Nihonmatsu lantern festival has about 3000 lanterns that are attached to the floats that you can spot as if they are illuminated treasures of Japan. A really beautiful sight if you like lights.

What is the Nihonmatsu lantern festival like?

The Nihonmatsu lantern festival features 7 large floats adorned with lanterns stretching up to 11 meters at their highest point and filled with local Japanese playing taiko drums that make their way through the streets of Nihonmatsu City, filling the streets with festival music as they move.

The final destination of the floats is the Nihonmatsu Shrine.

The 7 floats are the Seven taikodai (太 鼓 台) , representing each of the Japanese villages around Nihonmatsu.

nihonmatsu lantern festival
The 7 floats of nihonmatsu lantern festival

What happens during the Nihonmatsu lantern festival?

The festival takes place over a period of 3 days.

On the opening day, priests bestow blessings at the local shrine, while seven floats symbolizing different areas of the town are embellished with numerous splendorous reddish-hued lanterns.

As the sun sets over the horizon, the festive atmosphere begins to gather momentum and a series of processions with a rich historical tradition take place.

As at other Japanese festivals, residents who take part in the parade of floats enthusiastically cheer each other on and chant encouraging chants while playing music.

At the Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival, each float has its own distinctive music and taiko drum beat.

The evening of the first day is the highlight of the festival. This is when the seven floats unite in a procession through the streets of Nihonmatsu City.

Watching these seven majestic floats moving through the busy and exciting streets of Nihonmatsu is a truly unique experience.

The impression is further magnified by the fact that during these processions, the floats seem to compete with each other through actions such as running at high speed and spinning boldly, generating an effect similar to a dance display.

nihonmatsu lantern festival

Nihonmatsu lantern festival float festival

Each festival float is equipped with 300 paper lanterns, all of which are handmade in Nihonmatsu, and each contains an authentic candle inside.

These candles are replaced when they burn down to a cigarette length and must be replaced promptly to prevent the lanterns from catching fire.

In just one night, it is estimated that each float uses up to 1500 candles in total!

In addition to the 300 lanterns used in the main body of each float, something that really sets these floats apart at the Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival are the decorative suginari lanterns located right at the top.

Also, there are 2 large lanterns held by the locals at the front and back of each of the floats. These 2 imposing lanterns mark the boundary of the Nihonmatsu area.

nihonmatsu lantern festival

The procession of floats at the Nihonmatsu lantern festival

The festival float procession involves multiple roles and responsibilities for team members.

A crucial job at the festival is that of the locals who are in charge of pushing the floats during the 3-day event. They perform this task spectacularly and seem to compete with floats from other areas as they race through the streets, some even dramatically balancing the floats.

Another important role is that of the float guide, who walks backwards and shouts instructions to the rest of the team.

The coxswain collaborates with another team member, whose function is to look for telephone lines or other objects that might catch the suginari decoration.

This person is also in charge of replacing the candles in the large lanterns at the front and back of the float.

nihonmatsu lantern festival

The orchestra members also travel inside the floats. Usually 4 people play large and small Japanese taiko drums, 5 play flutes and others play bells, all inside a single float.

Other important members of the team are the youths, who keep the crowd and the rest of their float lively throughout the festival with their singing.

I have had the opportunity to attend the Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival and would definitely recommend it.

Not only is the atmosphere and the awesome floats fantastic, but it’s also very easy to get there by public transportation!

How to get to the Nihonmatsu lantern festival

The festival area starts just outside Nihonmatsu train station. Be sure to pick up a map indicating the location of the floats at various times during the night at one of the information booths.

This area is approximately a 5-minute walk from Nihonmatsu Station on the JR Tohoku line, or if you are in the area, you can take the JR Tohoku line to Nihonmatsu Station.
JR Tohoku or if you have a rented car it is approximately a 5 minute drive from Nihonmatsu IC on the Tohoku Expressway. But parking can be a problem that day, believe me so it is better to go by shuttle, just a tip.

nihonmatsu lantern festival

Food at the Nihonmatsu lantern festival

The Nihonmatsu Lantern Festival also offers a variety of delicious foods and desserts that visitors can enjoy while participating in the festivities.

  • Takoyaki: Small dumplings filled with octopus and other ingredients, cooked on a special griddle. They are a popular choice of street food in Japan, including festivals.
  • Yakitori: Grilled chicken skewers with different sauces and seasonings. Yakitori is a tasty treat and popular at festive events.
  • Yaki Imo: Japanese sweet potatoes grilled over hot coals. They are a comforting and popular choice during the winter.
  • Kibi Dango: Small glutinous rice balls coated with kinako (roasted soybean flour). This fluffy and tasty sweet is a favorite among festival-goers.
  • Kushiage: Breaded and deep-fried skewers of meat, fish or vegetables. They are a crunchy and delicious snack that you can enjoy at the festival.
  • Yakiniku: A Japanese barbecue experience where you can grill your own cuts of meat and enjoy a variety of sauces and sides.
  • Taiyaki: Fish-shaped cakes filled with different flavors, such as sweet bean paste, chocolate or cream.
  • Matcha Ice Cream: Matcha tea ice cream, a green tea powder characteristic of Japan, known for its unique flavor and vibrant green color.
  • Mochi: Delicate glutinous rice cakes filled with sweet bean paste or fruit. They are soft and chewy.
  • Warabi Mochi: Another variant of mochi, made from fern starch and topped with kinako and sugar. It is refreshing and light.
  • Dorayaki: A sandwich-shaped pastry filled with anko (sweet bean paste). It is a traditional and popular dessert.
  • Kurimu Korone: Japanese ice cream cones with a creamy and soft filling on top.
  • Kintsuba: A Japanese cake made with crepe dough and anko filling.
  • Chocobanana: A fresh banana inserted into a wooden or bamboo stick and then dipped in melted chocolate.

nihonmatsu lantern festival