Jun 18, 2018 Event Hiroshima City

Main Street Charm – Hiroshima’s Toukasan Festival in 2018

#Activity&Experience ,#Event ,#Event2018 ,#Kids ,#Local Festival ,#Summer ,#Temple&Shrine

Every year on the first weekend in June, the Toukasan Festival transforms the center of Hiroshima. For three days, it takes over Chuo Dori Avenue – one of the busiest thoroughfares in the city. Thought to be one of the oldest festivals in Japan dating back to 1620, Toukasan is one of Hiroshima’s “big three” alongside the Sumiyoshi Festival in July and the Ebessan Festival in November. As well as its scale and longevity, this vibrant spectacle is also famous for its dress code: summer “yukata” kimonos.

-This is the earliest festival in the calendar year where you can show off your yukata kimono.

Yukatas – more casual and lighter than a formal kimono – tend to make their appearance in the height of the Japanese summer. Toukasan prides itself as the earliest opportunity in the calendar year to don your yukata and enjoy a festival atmosphere. Thousands heed the call and you’ll see young and old dressed beautifully in an array of colorful yukatas.

-Even pets come dressed in their own stylish yukata kimonos.

You can buy a yukata relatively cheaply compared to a formal kimono. During the festival, selected locations in the city like the Hiroshima Kokusai Hotel also offer fitting services, where they can correct and straighten out your yukata for a mere ¥500.

The heart of the festival is Enryuji Temple (known locally as Toukasan) and it’s hard to miss. In the evenings, this popular Nichiren Buddhist temple is bathed in red light from the hundreds of lanterns decorating the grounds. During the three days of the festival, roughly 450,000 people are thought to pass under the temple’s canopy of lanterns to pay their respects.

-Lining up for charms and talismans at Toukasan to keep bad luck at bay.

-Thousands come to Toukasan Temple to buy the special paper fans that provide protection from evil and bad luck.

Inside, vendors sell a variety of charms and talismans, but the most prominent gifts on sale are the mystical paper fans. For ¥1,000, they can help ward off evil and bring you good fortune. You can also glimpse into your future for as little as ¥100 – just buy one of the multilingual fortune slips. For anyone who needs a thorough cleansing, the monks at Toukasan perform exorcisms to rid your body of bad luck in the main hall upon request.

 

-Both sides of the Chuo Dori Avenue are lined by festival stands selling everything from Japanese festival food to plastic masks.

After praying at the temple and buying spiritual protection, you can explore Chuo Dori Avenue stretching down from Hatchobori crossing to the Peace Boulevard in the south. The sidewalks on both sides of the road are packed with stalls selling Japanese festival foods (some more traditional than others), toys, novelties, and traditional Japanese festival games like goldfish scooping.

 

-There’s plenty to see on Chuo Dori Avenue. Local dance groups and taiko drumming troupes put on spectacular shows.

From 7 pm onwards, the entire length of the Chuo Dori Avenue becomes a pedestrian zone. The center of the road is cordoned off for a variety of public performances. Local dance groups put on energetic recitals and models show off the latest in yukata trends in the Yukata Fashion Show. There’s even a section for the latest in pet yukata fashion. This year, the biggest crowd pleaser was the young taiko drumming ensemble bursting with energy and skill. Very impressive. But it’s hard to get a good view once the crowd starts to gather, so get your spot early.

-Go to Shintenchi Park for traditional ‘bon-odori’ dancing.

Slightly off to the side of Chuo Dori Avenue is Shintenchi Park. This small open space is usually eclipsed by the bars and nightlife surrounding it. But during the festival, the park takes center stage. Revelers congregate every night around a main taiko drum tower to partake in “bon-odori” – a traditional festival dance. The locals will show you the moves, so feel free to join in. This is also where the much-loved local singer Minami Issei performs every year, culminating in a rousing rendition of the theme song for the Hiroshima Carp baseball team.

So if you’re in Hiroshima at the start of June, grab a yukata and head out onto Chuo Dori Avenue for your chance to enjoy a quintessentially Japanese carnival atmosphere.

 

Tokasan
Venue 8-12 Mikawacho, Naka-ku, Hiroshima (map)
Date&Time Every first Friday to Sunday in June
June 7 (Fri)-9 (Sun)  in 2019
12a.m.-11p.m.
Website Event Official Website