Apr 19th
Apr 20th
Photo: Furukawa-yatai – okei0419が撮影 / Public Domain
- 2 min read

Furukawa Festival 2024

Hida Furukawa’s most famous celebration

Venue: Hida Furukawa When: Apr 19th - Apr 20th 2024

The Furukawa Festival, or Furukawa Matsuri, is an annual event of Hida Furukawa’s Keta Wakamiya Shrine. During the two-day spectacle, Hida Furukawa, a rural town in Gifu Prefecture, transforms into an energetic and sacred venue buzzing with locals and visitors.

The festival, recognized as Hida Furukawa’s largest event, is registered on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List and designated as an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Highlights

  • Mikoshi (portable shrine) processions
  • Okoshi-Daiko (“rousing drum”) night parade
  • Yatai (festival floats) parades

Mikoshi processions (April 19 & 20)

A mikoshi is a portable shrine in which a deity can be transported from one place to another. On April 19, Keta Wakamiya Shrine’s deity is placed in a mikoshi, paraded through the town, and enshrined at Otabisho, a temporary destination for the deity. The next day, the deity is brought back to Keta Wakamiya Shrine in another sacred procession. These processions are accompanied by traditional music and performances such as Shishimai, or lion dance.

Okoshi-Daiko night parade (April 19, night)

During the exhilarating Okoshi-Daiko parade—one of the festival’s most iconic moments—hundreds of half-naked men carry a massive drum with two players sitting atop it through the town. At the same time, groups with smaller drums (Tsuke-Daiko) compete against each other to attach their Tsuke-Daiko to the Okoshi-Daiko. The participants’ exuberance is contagious, and the soul-reverberating drumming creates a captivating atmosphere.

Yatai parades (April 19 & 20)

The Yatai festival floats are renowned for their mesmerizing intricacy and grandeur—serving as both floats and stages for performing arts. There are nine Yatai in total, and on April 19, the floats are taken out of their respective warehouses and paraded through the neighborhoods. Then, on April 20, the floats are lined up at predetermined locations, and select floats host traditional shows, such as marionette performances. In the evening, festival participants parade the lantern-illuminated Yatai through the town once more to signal the festival’s end in an awe-inspiring display of elegance.

Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall

If you miss the festival, you can still partially experience its magic at the Hida Furukawa Festival Exhibition Hall, which displays three real Yatai floats, related artifacts, a 4K movie of the Furukawa Festival, and more.

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