Japan’s Surreal Festivals

Japan is full of surprises. It’s also full of incredible, larger-than-life events and festivals. And while there’s no shortage of large-scale events back in the U.S., Japan just knows how to take such festivals to the next level. Whether it’s the ethereal dreamscapes of the snow festival, the adrenaline-filled intensity of log-riding, or the beauty of fully choreographed mass-dancing, it’s safe to say that Japan has all but mastered the art of festivals. And since they have so many of them, it would be incredibly difficult to summarise them all in one article, so here are some of our own favorites!




Choreographed dance of japanese gfstical

Gettyimages / AFP Contributor / AFP


Awa Odori, also known as the Awa Dance Festival, is a four-day festival held in Shikoku, Japan. It is the largest dance festival in Japan, attracting approximately 1.3 million tourists every year. At the heart of the festival is the grand display of choreographed music and dance known as ren. Performs sport traditional Obon dance costumes as they parade, dance, and sing through the streets, making for a unique experience.


Onbashira festival


japanese peoplkle riding huge log down a mountain

Gettyimages / Koichi Kamoshida / Getty Image News


The brave participants of the high-stakes Onbashira Festival are required to ride a huge log down, get this, a mountain. Yes, a rocky, rough, unstable mountain. The festival occurs once every four years, yet thousands of people get injured and some have even lost their lives to this reckless tradition. Festival-goers put their actual lives on the line, and that’s why the tradition has become such a spectacle for all onlookers.


The Kamakura snow festival


Tiny little candle-lit snow huts on the river bank

Gettyimages / Kiyoshi Ota / Getty Image News


No, those aren’t Among Us cosplayers, they’re miniature Kamakura or snow huts! Throughout the appropriately named Kamakura Snow Festival, these Kamakura are scattered along the many riverbanks of Yokote, Akita, Japan. In this 400-year-old folk event, local children offer sweet sake and grilled rice cakes to visitors as they invite them into the snow huts to worship the god of water.


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