Shimoda City, Shizuoka Prefecture, became the first port of Japan to open its doors to the world after the arrival of the American Commodore Perry and his "Blackships" in 1854. The annual Blackship Festival, or Kurofune Matsuri, began in 1943 as a way to not only spread the city's history, but to contribute to world peace and international good will.
During the fireworks held on the night before the main festival, you can witness the streets full of festivalgoers dressed in Kimono and historical attire. The town feels as if it has gone through a time slip back to the closing days of the Tokugawa Shogunate. There are more than plenty of historical and friendly events to enjoy, such as the comically reenacted Shimoda Treaty signing ceremony and the free Blackship Sunset Concert, made possible with the help of the US Marine force and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force.
There are many events held throughout the festival. You can get your buzz on at a Japan-U.S. beer match, after working up a sweat at a Basketball match. They are free for anyone to take part in, so give it a try if you trust your skills. There are also many unique international fairs such as the "Itasha" (cars with paint jobs featuring anime characters) and Cosplay Fair, also known as Blackship: Kurofune.
Alongside all of the festivities, there are many historical heritages to see, for example, the Ryosen-ji Temple, where the Shimoda Treaty was signed, the Gyokusen-ji Temple, the location of the very first US embassy in Japan, and the Choraku-ji Temple, where the treaty for peace between Japan and Russia was concluded. Stop by while enjoying the festivities and imagine what Japan was like when its doors first reopened.
There are booths throughout town where you can rent Kimonos. They will dress you as well. It is about 1,000 yen for adults, and 500 yen for people under 15 years of age. Walk the town in a kimono! (*Please keep in mind that kimono for men are limited)
Please follow the directions of security and street guides.
Access to Shimoda City
Izukyu Shimoda Station on the Izukyu Line
Held in many locations throughout out the city, generally within brief walking distance from the Izukyu Shimoda Station.