Hamamatsu Festival is a festival for celebrating newborn babies born that year. Local communities come together and pray for the healthy and smooth growth of the children. It is a nationally rare citizens festival made possible by the participation of the locals and has no direct relations to any shrines or temples. During the day, locals gather at the Kite venue in Nakatajima where the "Hatsu Tako" (First Kite) is flown high into the air to celebrate the birth of children, while at night, gorgeous performances of the floats known as Goten Yatai are held in center city featuring chants and Ohayashi music created by children that really enliven the city. Over 170 neighborhoods participate, each with their own Kite symbol, Goten Yatai float and jacket (Happi) design, filling the streets with brilliant colors.
Hamamatsu Festival started in 1558, in the Eiroku era, approx. 450 years ago. It is said that the city's leader and lord of the castle, flew a kite high in the air in celebration of his eldest son's birth, however no one knows for sure. Geographically, however, Hamamatsu's climate creates perfect winds for kite flying and the tradition of raising the Hatsu Tako to celebrate new-borns has been protected and continued up until today.
The name Hamamatsu is reminiscent of Tako-age Gassen (Kite Battle), a three day competition held by the ocean at the Nakatajima Kite Venue. Different boroughs of the city bring their best kite to entertain the gathering of participants and viewers alike. On May 3rd, the first day, Kites are flown high to celebrate the newborns. On the 4th and 5th, kites are flown into each other and strings are entangled for the Itokiri Gassen, or String Breaking Battle, that excites the onlookers below. The battle ends when one of the strings snap. Don't miss this passion packed Hamamatsu original.
From 6:30pm, on each of the three festival days, the pulling of the floats begins in the center city streets. These gorgeous floats are elaborately made and bear brilliant carvings. Surrounded on all sides by onlookers, these floats are rolled through town. The children, dressed in light make up, playing the instruments and creating the Ohayashi music from atop the floats, add an element of glamour to this night of competition that resembles a scene from a historical scroll. Don't miss it.
Picture provided by Hamamatsu Visitors & Convention Bureau
Only Hamamatsu Festival participants are allowed into the grass area of the Kite raising venue (must be wearing an official Happi jacket). Viewers are asked to kindly watch from the provided viewing sections. Kites can fall from the sky at any moment, so please keep your attention to the sky at all times. Be sure to never grab kite lines with your hands, you may get hurt.
During the Goten Yatai float parades, please refrain from viewing from atop short ladders and do not enter the parade path at any time.
The use of drones is strictly forbidden regarding any time or section of the festival.
Access to Hamamatsu City
JR Hamamatsu Station
Nakatajima Venue (Tako-age Gassen)
Address: Nakatajima-cho, Minami Ward, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture (by the Nakatajima sand dunes)
Center City Venue (Goten Yatai floats)
Address: Naka Ward, Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture (around Hamamatsu Station)