The Paantu festival in Miyako islands,Okinawa (Photo: photoNN /
The Paantu festival in Miyako islands,Okinawa (Photo: photoNN /

Paantu Festival in Okinawa 2024

Spiritual cleansing through smears of mud

When: Early Oct 2024
Notice: The dates for this event are not yet confirmed. This page will be updated once the official date(s) are announced by the event organizers. Please check the official event site for the latest info.

As the summer heat gives way to slightly cooler breezes, the island of Miyakojima in Japan’s southernmost prefecture of Okinawa celebrates an ancient form of exorcism involving supernatural creatures, masks and a whole lot of mud.

The festival of Paantu (also written as Pantu) takes its name from the supernatural gods—beings covered in branches, leaves and thick layers of mud—that descend upon the village to chase out evil and bring luck to the residents. It’s a long-standing belief that new homes and newborn children who were splashed with mud by these visiting deities would be blessed with good luck.

That fortune seems to extend to all those who get “dirtied” by the Paantu spirits as they make their way through the small communities where this festival is still celebrated. (Hirara City in Shimajiri and the Nobaru district of Ueno village are two locations that continue to hold Paantu events.)

The Paantu will enthusiastically attempt to spread their mud to both residents and visitors alike, so those who attend are asked to be open to the spirit of the festival.

In recent years, due to overwhelming visitor numbers and complaints from tourists about the messy nature of the festival, the dates for Paantu are usually not announced until a few days before the ritual is due to take place. While the traditional celebration follows the Japanese lunar calendar, in the past, Paantu festivals have usually taken place between the end of September and mid-October (see past Paantu dates (in Japanese)).

Getting there

From Tokyo's Haneda Airport to Miyako Island, it takes 3 hours by plane.

From Okinawa's Naha Airport, it takes 50 minutes by plane.

From Ishigaki Island, it takes 30 minutes by plane.

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Elizabeth S 5 years ago
It’s so wonderful to see that places like Miyakojima preserve these old traditions. Even if they do terrify the children during the blessing.
Kim 5 years ago
I'll take the mess if it means I'm blessed! Looks fun!

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