10 Best Festivals in Japan in November 2022

tori no ichi festival Events
Yoshikazu TAKADA, (CC BY 2.0), via flickr
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Writer’s profile

Mao Goto is a Japanese freelancer who was born in Hayama, Kanagawa prefecture, and raised in Tokyo. Since 2016 she lives in the Taito Ward, home to a lot of Japanese culture hotspots such as Asakusa, Akihabara, and Ueno. She has been interested in the field of English education in Japan and got her Master’s degree in March 2020. A lover of photography, travel, sweets, and cross-stitch. Contact her via Facebook.

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Autumn is the season when leaves turn beautiful hues of red and yellow, and many crops are harvested. Due to the good fortune of the season, many Japanese festivals are held in November. 

Whether it is a festival to celebrate the harvest or a unique local festival, its charm is enough to attract visitors from all over. In this article, we will feature some of the most fascinating festivals in Japan in November.

1. Asakusa Tori no Ichi

Yoshikazu TAKADA, (CC BY 2.0), via flickr

Asakusa Washi-jinja Shrine, located a short distance from the center of Asakusa in Tokyo, holds Asakusa Tori no Ichi on the day of the rooster (Tori no hi) in November every year. This festival is held to commemorate the birth of good luck and prosperous business, and many rake-shaped lucky charms that attract good luck and money are sold.

The rakes are decorated with treasure ships, koban (small gold coins), and seven gods of good fortune. Prices range from 1,000 yen to tens of thousands of yen, depending on the size of the rake and the luxury of the ornaments. If your timing is right, try to visit at night. The sight of so many gorgeous rakes lined up in a row is quite beautiful.

Dates: November 4, 16, 28

Official Website: Asakusa Tori no Ichi (Only in Japanese)

2. Karatsu Kunchi

These giant floats are iconic of the festival

Karatsu Kunchi, held at Karatsu Shrine in Saga Prefecture, is a major festival held annually on November 2nd – 4th. This festival is looked forward to every year by many locals, and in 2016, the “Hikiyama Event of Karasawa Kunchi” was registered as “UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage,” and the festival has been recognized as one of the most important events of the year for the locals.

With an estimated 500,000 people visiting the festival during its three-day run, it continues to attract many people. Karatsu Kunchi, which is proudly celebrated by the local people of Karatsu, is a festival worth seeing!

Dates: November 2 – 4

Official Website: Karatsu Kunchi

3. Arashiyama Momiji Festival

It’s hard to beat such beautiful colors during the Arashiyama Momiji festival

Arashiyama in Kyoto is famous for its cherry blossoms in the spring, and its colorful autumn leaves in the fall. On the second Sunday of November every year, a festival is held in Arashiyama to appreciate Arashiyama’s beautiful autumn leaves. On the river near the Togetsukyo Bridge, people dressed in beautiful Heian-period kimonos sit elegantly on a boat. A photo of them with the exceptional autumn leaves in the background will surely make for a uniquely Japanese photojournalistic image. If you want to visit a festival that is uniquely Kyoto, Arashiyama Momiji Festival is the place to go!

Dates: November 13

4. Niiname-sai

This festival is absolutely unforgettable!

Niimame-sai, which celebrates and gives thanks for the rice harvest and wishes for a bountiful crop in the following year, is held at shrines throughout Japan, but the most famous of them all is Niiname-sai at Ise Jingu Shrine

It is held every year on November 23 and begins early in the morning at 4:00 am. November 23 is designated as one of the national holidays in Japan as “Labor Thanksgiving Day,” but it is said that its predecessor was this Niiname-sai. It is a festival very typical of Japan, where rice cultivation is very popular, and is an event to give thanks for the blessings of the harvest in a solemn atmosphere.

Dates: November 23

Official Website: Niiname-sai (Only in Japanese)

5. Takachiho Yokagura

This festival has a rich history and is very deeply rooted in local culture.

In Takachiho, located in the northern tip of Miyazaki Prefecture, this Shinto festival is held from mid-November to early February of the following year, where 33 kagura (Shinto music and dance) performances are dedicated through the night. 

This festival is held in around 20 villages in the town, and the date of the festival in each village is announced around October each year. This event is deeply rooted in local traditions, and the sight of people wearing Japanese masks like Hannya and Tengu and their dancing on stage with great effort is very impressive. 

Official Website: Takachiho no Yokagura

6. Shurijo Castle Festival

Shurijo Castle is built in the Ryukyu style.

In Okinawa, where the weather is mild throughout the year, Shurijo Castle Festival is held in November, enveloping the visitors in an Okinawan mood. Visitors can experience Ryukyuan culture and traditional dances with classical music from the Ryukyu period being performed. Events are also held to recreate the appearance of the king and queen of the Ryukyu Kingdom in those days.

In addition, there are many other events that tourists can enjoy throughout the festival, such as sales of locally grown vegetables and tours of Shurijo Castle. 

Dates: October 29 – November 3

Official Website: Shurijo Castle Festival

7. Onomichi Betcha Festival

Onomichi has a very peaceful seaside atmosphere.

Onomichi, one of the famous tourist destinations in Hiroshima Prefecture, is a fashionable town with a retro atmosphere facing the Seto Inland Sea. In Onomichi, the “Onomichi Betcha Festival” is held in autumn, a mysterious festival in which three demon gods dressed as “Beta”, “Soba”, and “Shōki” chase children in Onomichi. This festival is said to have helped cure the plague in ancient times and grant prosperity and success in academic achievement for children. 

Dates: November 1 – 3

Official Website: Onomichi Betcha Festival (Only in Japanese)

8. Ohara Festival

Sakoppi, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ohara festival is held annually on November 2nd ~ 3rd in Kagoshima City, Kagoshima Prefecture, and is the largest festival in Southern Kyushu. About 20,000 dancers dance in a parade through Kagoshima City to the tune of local folk songs and ondo (dance steps). The sight of the dancers dressed in yukata and happi is truly a sight to behold. Recently, jazz dance, street dance, and other modern dance styles have been introduced, making this a festival that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and genders. During the festival, “a flower train” designed for Ohara Matsuri is in operation. There are also some events that are limited to the Ohara Festival, so be sure to check them out.

Dates: November 2 – 3

Official Website: Ohara Festival

9. Hanno Festival

Hanno Festival in Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, brings together floats and musical performances held at shrines throughout the city on the same day. The entire city is filled with a frenzied mood as people in kimono and Japanese masks ride on floats with hollowed-out bottoms. The continuous sound of Japanese taiko drums and flutes provides an atmosphere that is iconic of Japanese festivals, and everyone has a good time.

Dates: November 5 – 6

Official Website: Hanno Festival (Only in Japanese)

10. Wakamiya Hachiman Naked Festival

This is the largest torch in the world!

Wakamiya Hachiman Naked Festival is held every November in the autumn in Bungotakada, Oita Prefecture, and this festival has a tradition of more than 900 years. On a cold night, local men carry a portable shrine, which weighs as much as one ton, across the Katsura River that flows through the city. When the festival begins, the world’s largest torch, called “Bungo Grand Torch”, measuring 16 meters in length and weighing up to 5 tons, is lit. The sight of this torch is sure to get the crowds excited!

Dates: November 8 – 10

Official Website: Wakamiya Hachiman Naked Festival

We have introduced a variety of festivals held in November here, from those easily accessible in Tokyo to those in Okinawa, where the weather is warmer, but did you find any festivals you want to visit? Visiting festivals in each area is a great opportunity to experience the enthusiasm and love of the locals. You can enjoy gourmet food from food stalls and listen to music unique to these festivals. We hope you will enjoy the cool weather in November in Japan and take advantage of the festivals around the country. The locals will be happy to share their festivals with you!

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