The Niihama Taiko Festival is an autumn festival held in celebration of good harvest. It is a sacred ritual and the most well known ethno-cultural event representing the city of Niihama. Considered one of the top-three in Shikoku, the festival has an incredibly rich history with its origins dating back 1,000 years.
The festival is also known as “Otoko-matsuri” (men’s festival) due to the powerful beauty experienced as 150 men lift up their Taiko-dai—massive 3 ton Taiko drum stands measuring 5.5m in height, gorgeously decorated in 3D gold thread embroidery.
The biggest attraction of the whole festival is the Kakikurabe, where men known as “kakifu” compete their power and skill lifting the Taiko-dai. Every district has their Taiko-dai, and you will witness many Kakikurabe throughout the city.
The must-see is Kakikurabe, where the 3 ton Taiko-dai is lifted by 150 men. Multiple Taiko-dai consolidate to put on a competition, taking off their wheels used during the parade, and the men take on each other for who has the most power and skill. These Kakikurabe are held all across the city during the festival dates. The Taiko-dai are decorated with gorgeous covers embroidered with specifically colored strings. They look astonishing during the daytime as well as nighttime when they are lit-up and glittering.
Original in-frame embroidery art by Maekawa; a well-known local brand in charge of the festival’s embroidery.
In the frame are the ascending and descending dragons used as design on the Taiko-dai. A perfect piece of artwork as souvenir to remember the festival!
Fuguzaku is an original dish of Niihama, using puffer-fish meat and skin, green onions and threadsail filefish liver, seasoned with spices and ponzu-sauce.
You may approach the Taiko-dai while it is standing still, but please do not get too close when they are in motion. They might make sudden unexpected turns.
Yamane sports field (4.4 km from JR Niihama station)
There is a free shuttle bus that runs between Niihama station’s south exit to the venue location. (regular operation from 10:30 to 17:00)
Riverside parkland (3.4 km from JR Niihama station)
JR Niihama station/There are no near-by bus stops (must catch a taxi)
Ikku Shrine (2.4 km from JR Niihama station)
JR Niihama station/(tentative) Noborimichi bus stop (in operation only during the festiva