Hachiman Matsuri

(八幡祭)

Takayama City, Gifu Pref.

Over 400 Years All Day See Chubu

About the festival

【UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage】Takayama City, located in the Hida region of northern Gifu Prefecture, is often referred to as Hida-Takayama. It is told that the Takayama Matsuri—held annually on October 9th and 10th—originated during the turbulent Sengoku period of Japan (late 16th to 17th cent.).

The Autumn Takayama Matsuri, also known as Hachiman Matsuri, is the annual festival of Sakurayama Hachimangu shrine, the home of the guardian deity (Ujigami) who protects the residents of the northern half of the old city surrounding Takayama Castle.
The floats of this festival, clad in gold decorations of phoenixes, gorgeous carvings and embroidery, have been recognized as national important tangible folk-cultural properties. 
To see these 11 splendid floats dragged around and lined up into their proper positions is a must. With traditional events such as Karakuri Hounou (the name for these Shinto festival offerings performed by mechanical puppets), and Yomatsuri, or "night festival", this celebration is so brilliant, that it's considered one of the three major beautiful festivals of Japan.

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Things to do

1. Get a up-close look of the splendid floats!

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The 11 spectacular floats of this Autumn festival are "dragged" into place and lined up with immense presence.
With plenty of prowess simply lined up as they are, you will be most certainly blown away by the chance to witness the detail and gorgeousness of the floats' sculptures and embroidery.
Loads of people surround the displayed stages and literally let out moans of admiration and wonder. Get a good close look! Just don't touch.

2. You must see these acrobatic stunts

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You must watch the Karakuri Hounou (the name for these Shinto festival offerings performed by mechanical puppets), performed on the float named Hoteitai. With the accompanying traditional music in the back, dolls called Karako (with Chinese style clothing and hair) manage to cross a trapeze called aya, head over heals, and then land on the shoulders of another doll portraying Hotei, the potbellied god in the seven gods of good luck. This stunt alone is worth the trip. The detail of these adorable dolls along with the dynamics of their acrobatic skills are truly unique. 

The crowd these stages draw can cause restrictions of traffic in and out of the shrine grounds just before performances start, so make your way to the proper float early on for a good show!

3. A different beauty from that of the day time

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This night festival, held only on the night of the 9th, fills the autumn night with charm. The floats that were basking and glowing in the sun during the day each carry 100 paper lanterns around the city to light up the darkness. The sight of these glowing lanterns weaving throughout the night is a most enchanting sight. Try out this beautiful element of the festival.

Information (基本情報)

  • Festival Dates October 9th and 10th, 2017
    Held annually on the same dates
  • Place The vicinity of Sakurayama Hachiman-gu Shrine
  • General Participation None
  • International Reception and Info. Pamphlets are available in Japanese, Chinese and English
  • Wi-Fi Available for free around the venue
  • Restrooms Available
  • HP

    http://kankou.city.takayama.lg.jp/index.html

  • Contact Takayama City Tourist Center
    0577−32—3333

Rules & Manners(参加のルール&マナー)

The floats are important cultural assets. Please do not touch them under any circumstance.
Depending on traffic, access to the shrine right before performance time may be regulated or prohibited.
There are some areas with drain gutters that have no lids, please watch your feet.
Use of drones is prohibited.
There may be some cancelations in case of rain.

Access Map (アクセスと地図)

Access to Takayama City
[Nearest Station]
JR Takayama Main Line, Takayama Station

Venue
Address: 178 Sakuramachi, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture
Around the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine.
20min walk from Takayama Station

Toshiki Nakamura
Writer
Loving Japanese anime and video games who grow up with Otaku culture.