Japan is a country full of natural, cultural, and historical wonders. Many people enjoy the culinary delights and the opportunity to explore and experience an unique country. A wonderful manifestation of these special Japanese qualities is the Matsuri “祭”, a Japanese festival.
Matsuri are an opportunity to see and feel a special side of this wonderful country. The matsuri is often a time to celebrate or show appreciation for a special historical event, person, or community bond. Many matsuri in Japan can trace their origins back hundreds of years with colorful and insightful narratives and characteristics.
Matsuri are held throughout the year, from Hokkaido to Okinawa, but are particularly concentrated in the summer months. On the shores of Lake Ashi, you can enjoy a number of special events during July and August. Hakone has long been a wonderful place to find cool summer days and cultural experiences. We encourage you to come taste the unique and colorful food stalls, enjoy a fireworks show, or just find a cool place to take in the festive atmosphere of a Matsuri. Below is a brief list of some events of the shores of Lake Ashi in Hakone during the summer months:
A week of festivities starts with the Kosui Festival. Legend holds that at the bottom of Lake Ashi in Hakone a nine headed dragon lived, tormenting local villagers. He was placated and calmed by a wandering priest and now protects the shores of the lake and the people and visitors to the Hakone area. The festivities are centered around an offering of sake and red rice to the dragon by the priests of Hakone Shrine.
This is one of Hakone`s largest festivals. Walk among the food stalls along the cool shores of Lake Ashi and enjoy the firework display in the evening. The serene setting of floating lanterns, toro-nagashi, and illuminated red shrine gates is a wonderful scene to experience.
The Hakone Shrine holds this celebration once a year to pray for the long life and health of the shrine and visitors. Festivities often include a kendo tounament, poetry recitals, samurai sword exhibitions and more on the grounds of the Hakone Shrine. There is also a fireworks display to be enjoyed in the evening.
Gojin Kosai is the sailing of traditional Japanese boats in the earling evening from the Hakone Shrine to Sekisho along the lake shore. The Hakone Park Summer Night Festival takes place at the base of Komagatake Ropeway near the Prince Hotel and stay for the fireworks display after dark. The fireworks display will be held on August 2nd and 3rd.
An event dedicated to the enshrined Dragon of Lake Ashi. Enjoy the dancing of the local “Soran” group. “Soran” is one of Japan`s most famous traditional songs with variations and styles differing depending on location and community. More music is provided by a marching band as well. There is also a fireworks display to be enjoyed in the evening.
The iconic scene of a red shrine gate floating on the shoreline with Mt. Fuji in the background is the setting for this festival. Things get dramatic and spectacular as a shrine gate is set a blaze on the lake. The fireworks and burning shrine gate.
The festivities continue with a large fireworks show in the evening. Come before dark to walk around the food and game stalls on the cool shores of Lake Ashi. Festivals give you the opportunity to try a number of wonderful Japanese foods; Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki, Shaved Ice and much more. The kids will love playing one of the festival games, much like the stands of a carnival or county fair.
A matsuri is a special opportunity to enrich a visit to Japan. Walking among the visitors and locals, sampling the eclectic “festival” foods, and taking in the sights and sounds of a matsuri will challenge your senses and leave you with memories that can last a lifetime. We hope you can time your visit to Hakone with one of these events and look forward to seeing you there.