Shunie, Omizutori, Nara
“The winter cold does not last after Omizutori” as the saying goes and this ritual is called a herald of spring. Otaimatsu is the main event with a breathtaking
spectacle of monks carrying blazing torches across the balcony of the temple hall.
• Time: 7pm on 1st to 11th and 13th, 7:30pm on 12th, 6:30pm on 14th • Admission: free • Where: Nigatsudo in Todaiji Temple, Nara • Access: JR/Kintetsu Railway Nara stn bus to Daibutsuden Kasugataisha-mae • Tel: 0742-22-5511
Hina Nagashi, Wakayama
A large number of women visit this festival to say a farewell to their hina dolls (a set of dolls displayed for Girls’ Day), which carry special memory of their childhood. Thousands of origami cranes are scattered into the sea, and then boats taking on the dolls follow on.
• Time: At Noon • Admission: free • Where: Awashima-jinja Shrine, Wakayama • Access: Nankai Railway Kata stn; 15 min walk • Tel: 073-459-0043
Seiryue Dragon Dance, Kyoto
Once upon a time, a dragon that was the incarnation of Kannon (the God of Mercy) flew to the waterfall in this temple and drank the sacred water. There will be
a powerful dragon dance associated with this myth.
• Time: 2pm • Admission:¥300 • Where: Kiyomizudera Temple, Kyoto • Access: JR Kyoto stn bus to Gojozaka; 10 min walk • Tel: 075-551-1234
Kashiku Matsuri Festival, Osaka
Hoseiji Temple houses the grave of a lady, Kashiku who was executed for murdering her brother. Being hideously drunk at the time of the murder, she swore that she would transform into a goddess of abstinence. On this day a memorial service for her will be held, and Japanese traditional performing arts will be offered.
• Time: Noon–3pm • Admission: free • Where: Hoseiji Temple, Osaka • Access: Subway Tanimachi line Higashi Umeda stn/JR Tozai line Kitashinchi stn, 6 min walk • Tel: 06-6364-8967
According to the legend passed down in this shrine, five ogres fought off enemies from overseas a long time ago. Bushinsai is held annually to commemorate the legend. The hallmark of this festival is a unique ogre dance.
• Time: 11:30am (Mar 27 in case of rain) • Admission: free • Where: Usuki Hachiman-jinja Shrine, Hyogo • Access: JR Kobe line Aboshi stn; 20 min walk • Tel: 079-272-0664
Hanezu Dance, Kyoto
This festival features a dance by young girls dressed in pale pink. The temple is well known for its association with Ono no Komachi who was a great beauty in ancient history and the dance depicts her love story.
• Time: 11 am • Admission:¥1,000 (entry to the plum garden included) • Where: Zuishinin, Kyoto • Access: Subway Tozai line Ono stn • Tel: 075-571-0025