There are so many wonderful festivals taking place throughout Japan during the summer months, it is almost impossible to detail them all! However, if you happen to be traveling in Hachinohe City, make a point of seeing the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Matsuri, as it is one of the most popular and elaborate celebrations and certainly worth witnessing.
The festival, which originated in 1721 involves three Shinto shrines: Ogami (霊神社), Shinra (新羅神社) and Shinmei (神明宮) and takes place annually in the city of Hachinohe from July 31st to August 4th. July 31st marks the opening ceremony for the festival and features a taiko drum and flute competition. Mikoshi (portable shrines) from each of the three shrines along with twenty-seven elaborately decorated floats with themes taken from myths, legends and Kabuki are paraded in town from August 1st through the 4th. The parade route originates at City Hall and runs through the city center ending at the Shinra Shrine. A Kiba Dakyu (Japanese Polo) tournament is held on that last day of the matsuri (festival) near the Shinra Shrine. The event concludes with a closing ceremony on the 4th and features taiko drum and flute performances.
The Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Float Festival is so popular that on February 2004 it was designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property by the Japanese government!
The city of Hachinohe is accessible via the JR Tohoku Shinkansen Line. Exit at the Hachinohe Station and proceed to the JR Hachinohe Line to Hon-Hachinohe Station.
Additional festival information is available through the Tourist Information Center of the Japan National Tourist Organization. (10th floor, Tokyo Kotsu Kaikan Bldg., 2-10-1, Yurakucho, Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo; (03) 3201-3331).
The Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Float Festival :
Kiba dakyu (Japanese Polo) tournament: