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Yamaga Toro Roman Festival

Lighting up the winter nights in Kumamoto Prefecture

For much of the year, the town of Yamaga lies in relative slumber in the mountains of Kumamoto prefecture. While its summer Obon festival has drawn massive crowds for years, the decade-old Toro Roman Matsuri (Winter Lantern Festival) is starting to generate its own solid following. Bamboo luminaries and delicate washi paper umbrellas in hues of red, white and deep purple line the streets of Yamaga's old town, creating an ethereal experience on cold February evenings. Glowing paths lead down side alleys to hidden shrines ablaze with candles. Young girls perform traditional numbers on an open-air stage in the middle of town and the beautifully-restored Yachiyo-za theater holds encore performances of the famous summer dances.

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