Nagoya holds the distinction of being the capital of Aichi Prefecture and Japan’s fourth most populated city. Three of Japan’s legendary and most powerful warlords hailed from or near Nagoya: Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536-1598), Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582) and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616) and are celebrated in its largest festival, the Nagoya Matsuri.
The three day festival held in mid-October, originated in 1955 and is held in central Hisaya Odori Park in Sakae. During the festival, which runs from Friday through Sunday, this modern city transforms itself back to the Sengoku period (1467-1573), Japan’s warring states period. The event features nine mikoshi (portable shrines) and giant floats called dashi, which are paraded through the streets. These festival floats are characterized by mechanical dolls, which perform various dances, acrobatic demonstrations and mythical plays.
Nagoya citizens dressed as the three heroes, Toyotomi, Oda and Tokugawa march in the procession along with their entourage in full military armor. Approximately 700 people participate in the parade and are accompanied by a band.
Other attractions such as taiko drum performances and traditional martial arts are also included. There is a reenactment of a historic battle during the Sengoku period and stalls selling local dishes are scattered throughout.
For those interested in Japan’s history, the festival is a good introduction to life in Japan during the Sengoku period and should not be missed. The Nagoya Matsuri is free to attend and runs from 11:30 AM – 8:00 PM.
For more information, visit: http://www.nagoya-festival.jp