Nagasaki Events and Festivals

(Nagasaki, Kyushu, Japan)




Picture of the colourful Lantern Festival in FebruaryThe city of Nagasaki celebrates a number of festivals throughout the year, many of which are focused on the family, as well as flowers and other symbols of Japan.

The most popular event of the year in Nagasaki is the Kunchi Festival, held every October, which sees Chinese dragons, elaborate costumes, puppetry and huge numbers of people taking to the streets in celebration.

Festivals are known as 'matsuri' in Japan and can often be the highlight of a holiday, offering plenty of things to see, do and enjoy. The Nagasaki Lantern Festival is another firm favourite, where lanterns are placed outside houses and shops, illuminating the city. Nagasaki's top annual events and festivals are listed below.


Nagasaki National Public Holidays


  • Ganjitsu - January 1st (New Year's Day)
  • Seijin-no-hi - Second Monday in January (Coming of Age Day)
  • Kenkoku Kinem-bi - February 11th (National Foundation Day)
  • Shumbun-no-hi - March 20th or 21st (Spring Equinox)
  • Midori-no-hi - April 29th (Green Day)
  • Kempo Kinem-bi - May 3rd (Constitution Day)
  • Kokumin-no-Saijitsu - May 4th (Adjoining Holiday)
  • Kodomo-no-hi - May 5th (Children's Day)
  • Umi-no-hi - Third Monday in July (Marine Day)
  • Keiro-no-hi - Third Monday in September (Respect for the Aged Day)
  • Shubun-no-hi - September 23rd or 24th (Autumn Equinox)
  • Taiiku-no-hi - Second Monday in October (Health Sports Day)
  • Bunka-no-hi - November 3rd (Culture Day)
  • Kinro Kansha-no-hi - November 23rd (Labour Thanksgiving Day)
  • Tenno Tanjobi - December 23rd (Emperor's Birthday)

Nagasaki Calendar of Festivals and Events 2014 / 2015



January


  • No significant events and festivals in Nagasaki in the month of January

February


  • Bean Throwing Festival - this unique festival is held every year on the 3rd February and involves the scattering of parched beans across the Shinto Shrine and temple
  • Setsubun Festival - a folk festival to welcome in spring, designed to chase away the evil spirits of winter
  • Nagasaki Lantern Festival - marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year according to the lunar calendar. The date changes every year, but the festivities remain the same. The New Year is welcomed with colourful lights and lanterns in Nagasaki. Processions are led through the streets, with one of the most popular being the Kotei Parade, where locals dress in traditional Japanese costumes and march around areas of central Nagasaki. Festivities usually last for two weeks and also include dragon dances and firecrackers

March


  • Hanami / Cherry Blossom Festival - the cherry blossom flower is very important to Japanese people and this festival is one of the most important in the national events calendar. Locals and visitors in Nagasaki are offered the chance to view these stunning flowers at a number of shrines and parks throughout the city

April


  • Nagasaki Hata-age Kite Competition - held on the first Sunday in April and sees families arrive in Tohakkei Park to show off their skills and compete in a number of competitions. The skies come alive with colour and those who wish to be a spectator only will find a number of refreshment stalls offering food and drink throughout the park

May


  • Children's Day in Nagasaki - this festival was once about the male children of the family and saw long leaves from the Iris flower (to signify swords) placed in a bath of water along with the young boys. It was hoped that by bathing the boys in this manner, they would be blessed with martial art skills. Today however, the focus is on all children and this days sees kites being flown, the hanging of dolls inside homes and the baking and eating of chimaki, rice cakes cooked in bamboo leaves

June


  • Father's Day - this is a national celebration in Japan for fathers, old and young. Gifts are given and prayers said. Fathers-to-be often visit shrines and pray for a happy and long life for their unborn child

July


  • Pehron (Peiron) Dragon Boat Races - held on the last Sunday of July at Matsugae International Pier, this boat race dates back three centuries and was started by the Chinese of the Tang Dynasty. Today, long local boats called pehron are used instead of traditional Chinese boats and are rowed by more than 30 men to the rhythm of a drum and gong

August


  • Nagasaki Peace Ceremony - is held on the 9th August every year to pay tribute to all who lost their lives when the atomic bomb hit the city. This ceremony also promotes world peace
  • Shoro-nagashi Festival - August 15th, floating lanterns are released into the harbour waters in honour of local ancestry

September


  • Chrysanthemum Festival - held on the 9th September, sees the entire country grind to a halt. Nagasaki displays some of its finest flowers and people take to the streets to celebrate the beauty of the chrysanthemum. Clay dolls with robes made of the flowers are arranged to represent significant historical events

October


  • Nagasaki Kunchi Festival - held between the 7th and 9th of October, the city's most popular festival. After Christianity was banned in Nagasaki, the Suwa Shrine took the place of the statue of Christ and saw thousands of worshippers flock to it. The festival dates back 350 years and is very popular among the locals. The dragon, Kokkodesho and Dutch Hurrah dances can be seen being performed and music and parades fill the streets

November


  • Shichi-go-san - every November, children throughout the city are taken to shrines where they and their families pray for good luck and health

December


  • No significant events and festivals in Nagasaki in the month of December







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