February 2019 Events

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Traditional Festivals

◆Toba no Himatsuri – the Fire Festival of Toba

Photo courtesy of Nishio City
Photo courtesy of Nishio City

One of the most peculiar, extraordinary annual festivals in Japan, and a designated National Intangible Folk Cultural Property.

Highlights (all times approximate)

15:00 – Shin-otoko (holy men) and ministers gather at the shrine and depart for the ocean.

15:30 – In an act known as misogi, they gallantly run into the freezing cold water to purify themselves.

19:30 – The ritual before the shrine commences.

20:00 – The 5m-high suzumi bonfires are lit and the fire festival begins. Event climax – The men jump in pursuit of the holy tree and the twelve ropes in the bonfire.

20:30 – The holy tree and the twelve ropes are offered at the altar and the festival is brought to an end.

When: Sun. 10 Feb. (15:00 – 20:30)

Where: Toba Shinmeisha Shrine (鳥羽神明社) in Nishio City (西尾市)

Access: A 10-minute walk from Mikawa-Toba Sta. (三河鳥羽駅). From Nagoya (名古屋) take the JR Tōkaidō Line (JR東海道線) to Gamagōri (蒲郡) and change to the Meitetsu Gamagōri Line (名鉄蒲郡線).



◆Toyohashi Oni Matsuri

Photos courtesy of Akumikanbe Shinmeisha Shrine
Photos courtesy of Akumikanbe Shinmeisha Shrine

The main annual festival of Akumikanbe Shinmeisha Shrine, heralding the arrival of spring to the Higashi Mikawa region. The festival has been designated a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property due to its ritual performances of dengaku (田楽/ ritual music and dance performed at observances connected to rice planting), popularized during the Heian and Kamakura periods, infused with Japanese creation legends, still presented in their ancient form.
The two-day festivities feature a variety of traditional ritual performances by parishioners, the most well-known being the “Duel of the Tengu and Red Oni” (鬼 / ogre; around 14:00, 11 Feb.). The wild red oni and the warrior tengu battle, using an arsenal of secret arts, before the defeated oni flees, scattering sweets and white powder (flour) in his wake. Being covered by the powder and eating the sweets is said to protect one from illness.

When: Sun. 10 Feb. (8:30 – 21:00) & Mon. 11 Feb. (8:30 – 23:00)

Where: Akumikanbe Shinmeisha Shrine (安久美神戸神明社), Toyohashi City (豊橋市), Hatchōdōri (八町通) 3-17

Access: From Toyohashi Sta. (豊橋駅) on the JR Tōkaidō Line (JR東海道本線) and Meitetsu Nagoya Line (名鉄なごや本線), take the City Tram (市電) to Toyohashi Kōen-mae (豊橋公園前, about 9 minutes), from which the venue is about a 3-minute walk to the north.

Website: http://onimatsuri.jimdo.com/ (Japanese)



◆The Takisanji Temple Ogre Festival

Photo courtesy of Okazaki City Tourism Association
Photo courtesy of Okazaki City Tourism Association

This popular festival attracts large crowds each year. During the fire festival (from around 19:45) three oni (鬼 / ogres) and dozens of torch-bearing men scurry around the main temple hallways.

When: Sat. 16 Feb. (Exhibition of temple treasures from 13:00; Procession from 15:00.)

Where: Takisanji Temple (滝山寺) in Okazaki City (岡崎市)

Access: From Higashi Okazaki Sta. (東岡崎駅) on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line (名鉄名古屋本線), take the Meitetsu Bus (名鉄バス), and alight at Takisanji-shita (滝山寺下; 25 minutes, 380 Yen). A special park & ride shuttle bus service (200 Yen) will also operate (17:00 – 19:30) from the Aichi Prefectural Okazaki Athletic Ground (愛知県岡崎総合運動場).



◆Kōnomiya Hadaka Matsuri

Photo courtesy of Kōnomiya Shrine
Photo courtesy of Kōnomiya Shrine

With around 10,000 semi-naked men participating, this is one of the largest Hadaka Matsuri (lit. “naked festival”) in Japan, attracting some 200,000 spectators each year. The flock of naked men rush to the hall of worship, energetically presenting an offering of naoi-sasa (なおい笹 / green bamboo tied with pieces of cloth [naoi-gire / なおい布] on which men and women unable to participate write their ages and wishes). The climax takes place around 17:00, when the bare-skinned men swarm on the one man designated the Shin-otoko (神男), in the belief that touching him will rid them of misfortune.

When: Sun. 17 Feb. (15:00 – 18:00)

Where: Kōnomiya Shrine (国府宮神社) in Inazawa City (稲沢市)

Access: A 3-min. walk from the north exit of Kōnomiya Sta. (国府宮駅), Meitetsu Nagoya Line (名鉄名古屋本線); or a 15-min. walk from Inazawa Sta. (稲沢駅), JR Tōkaidō Line (JR東海道本線).



◆Kinekosa Matsuri

Photos courtesy of Shichishosha Shrine
Photos courtesy of Shichishosha Shrine

The Kinekosa Matsuri has a history of over a thousand years, and the adherence to age-old customs has seen the festival counted among the Three Bizarre Matsuri of the Owari area.
There are three main rituals that take place. In the kawa-matsuri (川祭り / river ritual), 12 males designated the ceremonial roles of yakusha (役者) wade into the Shōnai River and erect a bamboo pole in the middle of the river. One of the men then climbs the pole, and the direction in which the pole breaks is used to divine fortunes (12:30, at the Shōnai River west of the shrine).
A traditional procession (from 14:00) features Shinto priests, the yakusha, and dancers in costumes from long ago.
In the yakuharai (厄祓い / removal of ill fortune; from 15:00), the yakusha perform their duties in the shrine grounds while striking worshippers with ritual implements to exorcise and protect them from ill fortune.

When: Thu. 21 Feb.

Where: Shichishosha Shrine (七所社), Nakamura Ward (中村区)

Access: A 15-minute walk west from Iwatsuka Sta. (岩塚駅) on the Subway Higashiyama Line (地下鉄東山線) Exit 2





Other Events

◆Nagoya Ramen Matsuri 2019

The ever-popular Nagoya Ramen Matsuri. Photo courtesy of Chukyo TV Broadcasting Co., Ltd.
The ever-popular Nagoya Ramen Matsuri.
Photo courtesy of Chukyo TV Broadcasting Co., Ltd.

Ramen lovers, rejoice! Take yourself on a regional ramen road trip, without leaving Sakae, as ramen stalls, carefully selected from all over Japan, descend once again on Nagoya. Be sure to buy a ramen ticket, which can be exchanged for ramen at any stall, before ordering.

When: Fri. 1 Feb. to Mon. 11 Feb. (10:00 – 20:30; 10:00 – 20:00 on 5 & 11 Feb.; Last order 30 minutes before closing.) No event Wed. 6 Feb.

Where: Edion Hisaya Hiroba (エディオン久屋広場) in Hisaya Odori Park (久屋大通公園), Sakae (栄)

Access: A 1-minute walk from Yaba-cho Sta. (矢場町駅), Exit 6 on the Meijo Subway Line (地下鉄名城線)

Admission: Free. Ramen tickets (can be used at any stall) 850 Yen.

Website: https://www.ctv.co.jp/event/ramen/ (Japanese)





Setsubun (節分) is the last day before the first day of the following season, but in modern times it has come to refer more specifically to the day before the beginning of spring on the old calendar, and is currently observed on 3 February. The point between seasons is traditionally considered a time when people can be afflicted by “evil,” manifesting as ill fortune or ill health. The ritual of mamemaki (豆まき / bean scattering) is performed to ward off or exorcise evil accumulated over the past year, represented by oni (鬼 / ogres).
As Setsubun approaches, supermarkets and convenience stores sell pre-packed bags of roasted soy beans, which often include a bonus cardboard oni mask. This is typically worn by the head of the household, who assumes the role of the oni as the children throw the soy beans at the oni and chant “Fuku wa uchi, oni wa soto!” (“In with good fortune, out with oni!”) People then eat the same number of beans as their age, and maybe one more, in the hope that doing so will bring good health and fortune over the coming year.
Another custom observed in more and more households at Setsubun is the ehō-maki (恵方巻), an uncut length of rolled sushi which must be consumed in one attempt, in silence, while facing the “lucky direction” (恵方).

Setsubun events around Nagoya

Setsubun is also observed at Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples, with some shrines holding setsubunsai (節分祭), and temples sechibun’e (節分会) celebrations, where priests and guests (larger events may feature celebrities and sumo wrestlers) throw roasted soy beans and other lucky items that parishioners scramble to catch.
Some of the most famous Setsubun events in and around Nagoya are held at Ōsu Kannon, and the temples known as the Four Owari Kannon (尾張四観音).
These four temples, Kasadera Kannon (Minami Ward), Jimokuji Kannon (Ama City), Arako Kannon (Nakagawa Ward) and
Ryūsenji Kannon (Moriyama Ward), devoted to the Bodhisattva Kannon (Avalokitasvara) have long been worshipped by locals praying for the compassion of the Bodhisattva, and following the construction of Nagoya Castle, came to be revered as the guardians of the Owari domain as each temple is located either north, east, west or south of Nagoya Castle. Each year, the Kannon temple located in that year’s lucky direction (with Nagoya Castle as the center point) is considered especially lucky, a belief reflected in the number of worshippers who visit. Ryūsenji Temple is the designated lucky Kannon for 2019.


◆Ōsu Kannon Setsubun Ship Parade

Photos courtesy of Osu Kannon Temple
Photos courtesy of Osu Kannon Temple

Each year at Nagoya’s Ōsu Kannon Temple a special stage is set up for a mamemaki ceremony, which begins at 10:00. In the afternoon, a parade procession featuring the takarabune (宝船 / treasure ship) and the seven gods of fortune, departs Sakae Shōkōen (栄小公園) park (near Sakae Intersection) at 13:18 and arrives at Ōsu Kannon at 15:00.

When: Sun. 3 Feb. (10:00 – 18:00)

Where: Ōsu Kannon Temple (大須観音)

Access: A short walk from Osu Kannon Sta. (大須観音駅) Exit 2 on the Tsurumai Subway Line (地下鉄鶴舞線)



◆Kasadera Kannon (Ryūfukuji Temple) Sechibun’e
笠覆寺 笠寺観音 節分会

Photo courtesy of Ryūfukuji Temple
Photo courtesy of Ryūfukuji Temple

The southern temple of the Four Owari Kannon, Kasadera Kannon in Minami Ward is popular with those seeking to be protected from ill fortune, or to be wed, but it is also a popular spot to observe Setsubun.
Setsubun festivities at Ryūfukuji Temple begin on 2 Feb. with prayers for those seeking to be rid of ill fortune (20:00 – 00:00; fee applies) and a variety of stalls. On 3 Feb., many visit to receive mamemaki blessings (豆まき護摩祈祷), offered between 9:00 – 17:00 (6,000 Yen), and take home a lucky masu (桝 / square wooden cup) and lucky rake.

Where: Ryūfukuji Temple (Kasadera Kannon / 笠覆寺 笠寺観音), Minami Ward (南区) Kasadera-cho Kamishinmachi 83 (笠寺町上新町83)

Access: A 3-minute walk east from Moto Kasadera Sta. (本笠寺駅) on the Meitetsu Nagoya Line (名鉄名古屋本線). As surrounding area will be closed to traffic, please use public transport.

Website: http://kasadera.jp/ (Japanese)



◆Ryūsenji Temple Sechibun’e

Photo courtesy of Ryūsenji Temple
Photo courtesy of Ryūsenji Temple

Located in Moriyama Ward, Ryūsenji Temple is the eastern temple of the Four Owari Kannon, and the designated Lucky Kannon for 2019.
The temple’s Setsubun celebrations are attended by tens of thousands. Visitors who receive blessings at Ryūsenji during the Sechibun’e event can also participate in the mamemaki. The fuku-gi (福木 / lucky baton) and fuku-mochi (福餅 / lucky pounded rice cake) throwing from 17:15 attracts many visitors, as it is said that those fortunate enough to catch the lucky items will have good fortune for the following year.

When: Sun. 3 Feb.

Where: Ryūsenji Temple (龍泉寺) in Moriyama Ward (守山区) Ryūsenji 1-902 (竜泉寺1-902)

Access: A 3-minute walk north (up the slope) from Ryūsenji-guchi (竜泉寺口) Stop on the Nagoya Guideway Bus / Yutorito Line (名古屋ガイドウェイバス[ゆとりーとライン])

Website: http://www.ryusenji.com/ (Japanese)



◆Hōōzan Jimokuji Temple Sechibun’e
鳳凰山 甚目寺 節分会

Photo courtesy of Ama Municipal Miwa Folk History Museum
Photo courtesy of Ama Municipal Miwa Folk History Museum

In 597, only 60 years after the introduction of Buddhism to Japan, Hadame Tatsumaro (甚目龍磨), a fisherman from Hadame village in Ise, was catching fish at an inlet (around 200 meters southeast of today’s Jimokuji Temple). When a golden statue of the Bodhisattva Kannon got caught in his net, the delighted fisherman built a temple to the north and enshrined the statue there. This is said to be the origin of Jimokuji Temple. Thriving as one of the Four Owari Kannon from the Edo period, the temple throngs with people of all ages during its annual sechibun’e event on 3 Feb.

When: Sun. 3 Feb. (8:00 – 17:00)

Where: Hōōzan Jimokuji Temple (鳳凰山 甚目寺), Ama City (あま市)

Access: A 5-minute walk from Jimokuji Sta. (甚目寺駅) on the Meitetsu Tsushima Line (名鉄津島線). As surrounding area will be closed to traffic, please use public transport.



◆The Little World Museum of Man: World Cheese Gourmet Festa

Photo courtesy of the Little World Museum of Man
Photo courtesy of the Little World Museum of Man

The Little World Museum of Man presents rare and tasty cheese dishes from all over the world. Enjoy cheese dishes from 13 countries, including Lohikeitto (creamy salmon soup) from Finland, Pisang goreng keju (deep fried banana topped with cheese) from Indonesia, Böreği (cheese-filled pastry) from Turkey, and more.
Other fun upcoming events include a World Chocolate Fair (Sat. 9, Sun. 10 and Mon. 11 [nat. hol.] Feb.) and the Belgian event, Bear Carnival (Sat. 23 and Sun. 24 Feb.).

When: World Cheese Gourmet Festa – until Sun. 3 Mar. The Little World Museum of Man hours – During Feb. 10:00 – 16:00; From March 9:30 – 17:00; Sat., Sun. & nat. hol. in Feb. 10:00 – 16:30. Closed Wed. and Thu. during Feb.

Where: The Little World Museum of Man (野外民族博物館リトルワールド), Inuyama City (犬山市)

Access: From Inuyama Sta. (犬山駅) East Exit (東口) on the Meitetsu Inuyama Line (名鉄犬山線), take the Gifu Bus (岐阜バス) bound for Little World (リトルワールド); From Nagoya Sta. (名古屋駅) / Meitetsu Bus Center (名鉄バスセンター) take the Tohtetsu Kōsoku Bus (東濃鉄道高速バス) directly to Little World (Buses depart 9:45, 10:45, 11:45 weekdays; 9:00, 10:00, 11:00 on Sat., Sun. & national holidays).

Admission: Adults & University students 1,700 Yen; Seniors (65 and over) 1,300 Yen; Senior HS students & Foreign students 1,100 Yen; Junior HS & Elementary school students 700 Yen; Pre-school-aged children (3 and over) 300 Yen. (※Proof of age required for seniors; Student ID required for foreign students.) Additional charges apply for food and beverages. *Please note that admission prices will change from Sun. 9 Mar. See the website for details.

Website: http://www.littleworld.jp/



◆The 18th Seto no O-Hina Meguri
第18回陶のまち 瀬戸のお雛めぐり

Photo courtesy of Seto City Marutto Museum / Tourism Association
Photo courtesy of Seto City Marutto Museum / Tourism Association

Famed for its ceramics, Seto City is hosting its 18th annual hina doll-themed event. A four-meter tall “Hinamid” (hina pyramid), consisting of around 1,000 individual glass and ceramic hina dolls, is on display at the Seto-Gura, hina dolls adorn the surrounding shopping district, and the town is colorfully decorated. Visitors can enjoy activities such as making a Seto ware hina doll, enjoy special o-hina lunches and sweets, and much more.

When: Sat. 2 Feb. to Sun. 3 Mar.

Where: Seto-Gura (瀬戸蔵) and surrounding areas in Seto City (瀬戸市)

Access: A 5-minute walk from Owari Seto Sta. (尾張瀬戸駅) on the Meitetsu Seto Line (名鉄瀬戸線)



◆The 9th Fukuyose-Hina Gathering ~ Fukuyose-Hina Project

Photo courtesy of Fukuyose Hina Project
Photo courtesy of Fukuyose Hina Project

Seeking to give unwanted hina dolls a ‘second life’ and promote tourism and vitality in Nagoya and the Chubu region, the Fukuyose-Hina Project began in 2011. This year’s event will take place at 23 venues in and around Nagoya, Toyota Inabu, and Gujo Hachiman in Gifu Prefecture. While hina dolls are usually dressed and arranged in very formal, traditional settings, at the exhibition you can see hina dolls shopping, emperor dolls cradling babies, ladies-in-waiting competing in an athletic event, imperial court musicians enjoying a drinking session, and other entertaining situations.
The exhibition will be held at other venues in addition to those listed below.
Check the website or Facebook page for details.

Where & when:

• Bunka no Michi Futabakan Wed. 20 Feb. – Mon. 24 Feb.
• Nagoya Castle Wed. 13 Feb. – Sun. 3 Mar.
• Chubu International Airport Centrair Fri. 8 Feb. – Thu. 21 Mar.
• Nakamura Police Station Late Feb.Late Mar.
• E-Able Nagoya Wed. 13 Feb. – Mon. 4 Mar.
• Higashiyama Sky Tower Tue. 5 Feb. – Sun. 3 Mar.
• Toyota City Inabu Donguri Kobo Sat. 2 Feb. – Wed. 3 Apr.
• Gujo Hachiman Shitamachi Sat. 2 Feb. – Wed. 3 Apr.

Website: http://www.shakaibunka.jp/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hukuyosehina



◆Agricultural Center dela Farm Weeping Plum Blossom Festival
農業センターdelaふぁーむ しだれ梅まつり

Photo courtesy of Agricultural Center dela Farm
Photo courtesy of Agricultural Center dela Farm

The Agricultural Center is home to one of the largest weeping plum blossom gardens in Japan, with 12 varieties and around 700 individual trees. Check the state of the plum blossoms before you go, on the Agricultural Center’s Facebook page.

When: Sat. 23 Feb. to Sun. 17 Mar. (9:00 – 16:30) Dates may change depending on the state of the plum blossoms.

Where: Agricultural Center dela Farm (農業センターdelaふぁーむ), Tempaku Ward (天白区)

Access: A 20-minute walk from Hirabari Sta. (平針駅) or Akaike Sta. (赤池) on the subway Tsurumai Line (地下鉄鶴舞線); By bus: From Hirabari take the City Bus for Chikatetsu Hara (地下鉄原) to Nōgyō Sentā Kita (農業センター北) bus stop, walk for 5 minutes. From Akaike take the Meitetsu Bus for Yūfukuji (祐福寺) or Zengo (前後) to Araike (荒池) bus stop, walk for 6 minutes.

Parking: 500 Yen for cars, 150 Yen for motorbikes and scooters.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/noucenter (Japanese)



◆Nagoya Auto Trend 2019
ナゴヤ オートトレンド2019

If you love cars, this is the show for you. Japan’s major auto manufacturers and independent workshops will be displaying their very own custom-built cars at this annual event.

When: Sat. 23 and Sun. 24 Feb. (10:00-17:00)

Where: Portmesse Nagoya (ポートメッセなごや)

Access: A 5-minute walk from Kinjō-futō Sta. (金城ふ頭駅) on the Aonami Line (あおなみ線).

Admission: 2,300 (2,000) Yen for adults, 800 (500) Yen for elementary school students. Prices in ( ) are for advance tickets available at FamilyMart stores. Up to two preschoolers may enter for free with an adult.

Website: http://www.n-autotrend.com/



◆Komaki Air Base Open Base

Photo from JASDF Komaki Air Base website; used with permission.
Photo from JASDF Komaki Air Base website; used with permission.

See a variety of aircraft and helicopters used by the Japan Air Self-Defense Force up close at this popular event. In addition to demonstrations of aircraft in action and exhibits highlighting the rescue and disaster relief activities of the JASDF, there are also rope ladders, a popular attraction for children. A number of stalls will be selling food, drinks, and other goods.

When: Sat. 2 Mar. (8:30 – 15:00)

Where: Komaki Air Base (小牧基地)

Access: A 5-minute walk from Ushiyama Sta. (牛山駅) on the Meitetsu Komaki Line (名鉄小牧線). (Please be aware that large crowds are expected.)

Admission: Free



◆Nagoya Players Presents Aesop’s Fables

Image courtesy of Nagoya Players
Image courtesy of Nagoya Players

Adapted by James Brock, the show is comprised of five famous fables: ‘Fox & Crow’, ‘Tortoise & Hare’, ‘Donkey In Lion’s Skin’, ‘Fox & the Sour Grapes’ and ‘Fox & Lion’. These classic tales are woven together into a fast-paced, seamless narrative. Audiences will see transformations in time and place happen before their very eyes. Nagoya Players will bring the magic of Aesop to stage for both adults and children to enjoy in this exciting family friendly show.

When: Sat. 30 and Sun. 31 Mar. (3 shows per day 12:00, 15:00 and 18:00)

Where: Chikusa Playhouse (千種文化小劇場), Nagoya-shi, Chikusa-ku, Chikusa 3-6-10

Access: A 3-minute walk north from Fukiage Sta. (吹上駅) Exit 7 on the Subway Sakura-dori Line (地下鉄桜通線)

Tickets: Early Bird Tickets: Adults 2,000 Yen, Senior/Student 1,500 Yen, Child 1,000 Yen. Early Bird Tickets available via TicketPia (http://t.pia.jp , P-Code 490411) until 28 Feb.

Website: http://nagoyaplayers.org/shows/aesops-fables



◆Toyoda Gosei Rink

Photo courtesy of Nagoya Television Event Jigyōbu
Photo courtesy of Nagoya Television Event Jigyōbu

An annual fixture on the winter calendar at Sakae’s Oasis 21, the skate rink without ice is back! Skaters of all ages have enjoyed skating (without the cold or getting wet when you fall) on the way home from work or school, or taking time out from shopping. Lit up in the evening, skaters can enjoy live performances and other events, as well as interactive projection mapping on the rink.

When: Every day until Sun. 3 Mar. (Weekdays 13:00 – 20:00; Sat., Sun., national holidays & winter holiday period [24 Dec. to 6 Jan.] 10:00 – 20:00)

Where: Oasis 21 (オアシス21) Galaxy Platform (銀河の広場) in Higashi Ward (東区)

Access: Sakae Sta. (栄駅) Exit 4 on the Higashiyama or Meijo Subway Lines (地下鉄東山・名城線)

Admission: Junior HS and older – Weekdays 900 Yen; Sat., Sun., national holidays and winter holiday period 1,200 Yen. Elementary school students and younger – 500 Yen. Prices include skate rental. Own skates not permitted. Gloves must be worn on the rink.

Website: https://www.nagoyatv.com/toyodagoseirink/ (Japanese)

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