Nikko Kinugawa Onsen District (鬼怒川温泉地区)
Official site in Japanese and in ENGLISH but I haven’t seen any info regarding upcoming events… Maybe I missed it.
- Ryuoh Festival (龍王祭) on July 23, 24, and 25 (Fri through Sun)
The biggest event in the district and definitely worth experiencing, especially the ritual ceremony in the “wild” Valley. The ceremony takes place 23rd in the morning at Ryu oh kyou (= dragon valley: 龍王峡). The remaining two days are for the summer festival at Kinugawa Onsen and Kinugawa Kawaji Onsen, that includes Hawaiian dance and music, traditional local dance (Nikko warako odori:日光和楽躍り), enka (演歌) singing, fireworks, and a mikoshi parade (two mikoshi: one for male and the other female carriers which is sort of unique).
Rating: *** (it applies to the ritual ceremony in Ryuohkyou valley) and the rest: * and 1/2
- Onsen Summer Festival (温泉夏祭り) on Aug 13, 14, and 15 (Fri through Sun)
On Aug 13 and 14 at Yunomachi Kouen (湯の町公園) and on 14 and 15 at Kawaji Onsen (川治温泉) traditional orchestra and local traditional dance plus fireworks welcome you.
- Kawaji Yatai Night Festival (川治屋台夜祭)on Aug 28 (Sat)
At Kawaji Grounds saying goodbye to the summer season with local traditional performances and other activities.
Nikko Sannai and Chuzenji Lake Districts (日光市山内及び中禅寺湖地区)
Official site in Japanese
- 15th Nikko Daikoku Festival (日光大黒祭)
On July 5 and 6 (Sat, Sun) from 10 to 15 (that’s 3PM for you Yanks) at Futaara shrine where a market selling a variety of handmade arts and crafts, veggies, etc is held. Traditional dance performances twice on July 5 (Sat) at 11 and 13:30 are waiting for you.
- Chuzenji kannonkoh Jizou nagashi (中禅寺観音講地蔵流し)
Starting at 10:00 on July 18th (Fri) in Chuzenji Temple by the Chuzenji lake where a Buddhist ritual ceremony takes place for the spiritual solace of monks who lost their lives eons ago during training. Under the name of Hashiri daikokuten (波之利大黒天), a prayer for peace at home, wealth in business, safety in traffic and delivery, and avoidance of evil spirit is delivered by monks.
In the afternoon, monks get on a boat on the lake and a ceremony called “Jizo nagashi” takes place.
- Yasaka matsuri at Takinoh shrine (瀧尾神社八坂祭)
From July 7 through July 14 in Imaichi district of Nikko city (日光市今市). Self-claimed biggest mikoshi in Japan, weighing over 1000kg parades through Imaichi downtown with over 350 Ujiko members.
- Nantaisan tohaikousha taisai (男体山登拝講社大祭) = Mt. Naitai trekking
From July 31 through Aug 7, you climb the 2484m holy mountain to the top and watch the sunrise from there. Several events, like fireworks, archery, dancing, and parades, are expected (see pics in above link to get an idea of the attractions). We are planning to do it this year. Dr. Trouble has already started his training regimen to the accompaniment of the Rocky soundtrack (yes, you may laugh if you want).
- 2010 Fireworks in Nikko (2010日光夏の花火)
On Aug 1st by the Daiya river (at Nikko Daiyagawa Park). No need to explain. Just wish for nice weather.
Rating: ** (I like fireworks)
- Nikko suginamiki marathon (日光杉並木マラソン)
On the same day as above (Aug 1st) on Route 121. Again, no need to explain. Not our type of activity, either… Next please.
Rating: no comment
- Ohgi no mato Kyudoh taikai (扇の的弓道大会) - Archery competition
One more link here
On Aug 4th, starting at 9:00 at Futaara shrine Chugushi (by Chuzenji lake) where approx 1500 participants mostly from the Kanto area get together and do target shooting on boats floating on the Chuzenji lake. Some go cosplaying (visit second link).
Rating: * and 1/2
- 24th Takigi Noh at Rinnohji temple (第24回 日光山輪王寺薪能)
Starting at night both on Aug 20th (Fri) and 21st (Sat) at Rinnohji Temple Sanbutsudo (輪王寺三仏堂). It’s a prestigious and state-of-art Noh open-air performance by the famous Sanbutsudo building, illuminated by fire. The content of the Noh performance is a bit different on both days, but I don’t think one can get it, at least I can’t. It’s notorious for rain and bad weather but if this is the case, disposable plastic rain jackets are distributed to the audience and the performance continues. Kuroko opens an umbrella for the performers and follows them. If it’s a storm, it’s too bad and you are unlucky. If that happens, then you guys are moved to an indoor building of an elementary school or something like that (I don’t remember where it’s going to be held in such cases).
Rating: above ***
We are willing to buy tickets for you, if you wish but just let us know ASAP, the sooner the better. It always sells out at lightning speed. Payment via paypal, or for people in Japan - postal bank transfer, no surcharge, we mail the tickets to you. The only sad part is that the Sanbutsudo building is currently under renovation and is partly covered with vinyl, tarp and what not.
Northern Tochigi district (県北地区)
- Nasu namikiru fudouson himatsuri (那須波切不動尊火祭り); Fire festival at Konjohin
On June 28 (Mon), a Buddhist ritual performance takes place, followed by walking on fire by barefoot monks, dips in boiling water and so on. Sounds crazy but exciting!
- Heike Taisai (平家大祭)
On June 6 and 7 (Sun and Mon) at … a remote and isolated area away from civilization, Kuriyama (see map in above link) samurai warrior cosplaying and marching in the streets take place (starting at 11:00) on Sun and traditional performances on Mon.
- Firefly watching in 2010 (2010年ほたる鑑賞会)
From July 1st to Aug 1st starting at 19:45 at Tennen onsen hotaru no yu, Nasu fishland in Nasushiobara city. It takes place at a campsite. Fee: 600 yen (if you only join the event) or free if you stay there. Self-explanatory as what to expect there.
Rating: * and 1/2
- Yamaage festival (山あげ祭)
Late July during weekend in Nasukarasuyama city (那須烏山市) downtown where Kyogen (狂言) is performed outdoor. A mikoshi parade is also expected. It was assigned as “Important Intangible Folk-cultural Property” in 1979.
- Yoichi festival (与一まつり)
Beginning of Aug in downtown Ohtawara where samurai warriors march with horses. Mikoshi parade, traditional dance, etc.
Rating: * and 1/2
- Sakura city Kitsuregawa summer festival and fireworks (さくら市きつれがわサマーフェスティバル＆花火大会2010)
Mid August at Michi no eki Kitsuregawa (道の駅きつれ川) where approx 3500 fireworks are expected. Detailed info will be available soon.
Kanuma area (鹿沼市)
- Kongosan hiwatari shugyo (金剛山火渡り修行)
On May 30th (Sun) from 12:30 to 15:00 at Mt. Kongoh Zuihojji temple (瑞峯寺) where crazy monks walk on fire with bare feet and dip themselves in boiling water!
At Isoyama shrine during rainy season (from Mid June to mid July). At night, flowers are illuminated using paper lanterns (提灯).
Rating: * and 1/2
- 38th Kanuma Fireworks (第38回鹿沼花火大会)
This event is accompanied by Satsuki (Azalea) festival on May 29th (Sat) at 19:00 by the Asahi bridge in Kanuma city downtown.
- Hitoro kanda odori (日渡かんだ踊り) Traditional dance performance
On Aug 16 at Hidoro Ohsugi shrine (日渡路大杉神社), traditional dance is performed by mostly female dancers. Detailed info will be provided soon.
- Nakizumoh (泣き相撲); Screaming out loud competition by infants
On Sep 19 (Sun) at Ikiko shrine where two infants are in the sumo wrestling circle, doyo (土俵), competing which one will start to cry first.
end of part 1
Part 2 is here.