Terrific festival street food, ornately decorated yatai floats, and amazing taiko drum battles usher in spring in northern Tochigi! In mid-to-late April each year the city of Otawara in Tochigi Prefecture holds a spring yatai festival. Yatai are mobile carts, intricately decorated representing different areas of the city, the original nine towns and villages that now make up Otawara city. At night the yatai carts are illuminated by lanterns and are escorted by a troupe of supporters. The festival is two days long and includes different events such as a parade, taiko drum demonstrations, and culminates in a fierce taiko battle on the second night just after dusk. During this battle the different yatai groups perform their drumming set, pitted against each other, each trying to outdo the other. These buttsuke festivals are held throughout the year including one in Kanuma City in October each year. These festivals are very lively and are always fun to join if you are in town!
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I was born and raised just outside of the city of Portland in beautiful Oregon wine country in the United States. In 2011 traveled to and studied at Akita International University focusing on Japanese culture and language as well as Korean culture. I graduated from Portland State University in 2012 with a degree in History. Today I live in Nikko, in Tochigi prefecture and work as an assistant language teacher at three local high schools. I have a passion and deep love for Japan, it's culture, and the people who live here. I am so pleased that I can share my experiences here with other people.