Sanno Matsuri

(山王祭)

Takayama City, Gifu Pref.

Over 400 Years Over 400 Years All Day All Day See See Chubu Chubu

About the festival

【UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage】Takayama City, residing in the Hida region in northern Gifu Prefecture, is often referred to as Hidatakayama. They say the name of the Takayama Matsuri, which is held annually on April 14th and 15th, goes back to the civil war era of Japan (late 16 cent. to 17cent.).

The Takayama Matsuri in Spring, also known as Sannou Matsuri, is the regular festival of Hie Shrine, the home of the guardian deity that looks over the southern half of the old city surrounding the Takayama Castle and the people who live there. 
The floats for 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 12 splendid moving stages 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 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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These are the only 2 days of the year that people are able to get a good close look of Takayama Festival's 12 beautiful floats. 

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. Watch the dancing puppets come alive!

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Twice in the day, the three floats Sanbasou, Ryujintai, Shakkyotai put on a service ritual that is performed by puppets, called Karakuri Hounou. Thanks to the aged skills of their puppeteers, these puppets capture their viewers with a mesmerizing performance, moving around freely as if they were alive. 

Due to overcrowding, pre-show access to the O-tabi-sho (the place portable shrines, mikoshi, are kept over night when departing from their home shrine) may be regulated or even prohibited, so please make your way to the performance earlier than later.

3. A different beauty from that of the day time

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This night festival, held only on the night of the 14th, fills the spring night with charm. The stages 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 will take your breath away. Try out this beautiful element of the festival.

Information (基本情報)

  • Festival Dates April 14th, 15th, 2017
    Held annually on the same dates
  • Place Hie Shrine and the surrounding town
  • General Participation None
  • International Reception and Info. Pamphlets are available in Japanese, Chinese and English
  • Wi-Fi There is free wi-fi around the festival grounds
  • 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.
There may be some regulating of sidewalk traffic in front of O-tabi-sho before and during performances.
Depending on traffic, access to the O-tabi-sho right before performance time may be regulated or prohibited.
There are some areas with drain gutters that have no lids, please be careful when walking.
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 Honsen, Takayama Station

Venue
Address: 156 Shiroyama, Takayama City, Gifu Prefecture 
Around the Hie Shrine
30min walk from Takayama Station

AREA SIGHT

立春の前日は「節分」といって、二十四節気による旧年から新年への変わり目であることから重視されており、日本全国各地の神社仏閣等で豆まきが行われる。地元では“おせんげんさん”と呼ばれ多くの人から親しまれている静岡浅間神社の節分祭は、静岡市指定の無形民俗文化財であり、古き歴史を有し、さらに特殊神事として今に伝承されている。豆まきを体験できるのはもちろんのこと、おにやら棒で戸板を叩き、市中より悪鬼を追いはらう特殊神事が体験できる。

Toshiki Nakamura
Writer