In Takayama, there are two main festivals in the spring and autumn: the Sanno Festival in the spring, which is the festival of the Hie Shrine, and the Hachiman Festival in the autumn, which is the festival of the Sakurayama Hachimangu Shrine. The Hachiman Festival is held annually on the 9th and 10th of October, and the Sanno Festival is held on the 14th and 15th of April. The Takayama Festivals attract spectators from around the world every year to see its magnificent yatai floats.
The Hachiman Autumn Festival is considered to be one of Japan’s finest, complete with yatai (festival floats), mikoshi (portable shrine) procession, and a stunning karakuri (traditional mechanical) marionette puppet performance. The highlight of the festival is the gorgeous festival floats which are called yatai in Japanese in this region. Their colorful and intricate decorations embody skills passed down over generations, and what makes the festivals in Takayama even more special is the beauty of the yatai set off by the backdrop of Takayama’s historic streets. In autumn, the colorful foliage, and in spring, the magical cherry blossoms add grandiose to the festivals.
There are 11 magnificent floats that come out during the Hachiman Festival, and all were crafted in the 17th century, each float representing a district in Takayama.
The festival floats are topped with karakuri ningyo (mechanical marionette puppets), and master puppeteers called tsunakata move the strings of the marionettes, creating a breathtaking performance of the dolls as if they were alive.
The sophisticated marionettes along with the gorgeous yatai floats represent the skilled craftsmanship of the Hida Takayama craftsmen. Since ancient times, Takayama has been renowned for its highly skilled carpenters and craftsmen, since they were experts in dealing with wood.
On the evening of the first day, there is a yoimatsuri (evening festival) which starts before dusk. The yatai floats are lit up with 100 traditional Japanese chochin (lanterns). The locals of Takayama dress in traditional kimono and hakama, proudly drawing the floats across the old town.
Enjoy an enchanting spectacle during the 2 days of the Autumn Hachiman Festival!!
Date: October 9th and 10th
Time: 9:00 am to 4:00 pm
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm (Evening Festival, October 9th)
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