Nozawa Onsen Autumn Lantern Festival 2019
Each year, on the 8th and 9th of September, the village comes alive for the Nozawa Onsen Autumn Lantern Festival. It’s a great insight into Japanese tradition and hospitality. However, even if you can’t make those dates, all is not lost.
Those who have visited Nozawa will remember that each little area surrounding an onsen is its own little community. Many of these communities (Akiha, surrounding Kaiya Nozawa and Nakao, the area around Villa Nozawa, as examples) host their own mini-festivals, either side of the main event. It makes for a particularly vibrant period. Visitors will hear local participants practicing drums and rehearsing dances in the days leading up to each festival.
As mentioned, the main event goes down on the 8th and 9th of September. Here’s the rundown;
8th of September
During the early evening of the 8th, O-yu Dori (Nozawa’s main street) springs to life with street vendors and a parade featuring drums, flute players, dancing and an age-old Japanese folk pantomime. Being the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, the performance is said to dispel evil in favour of good luck while ensuring a bountiful rice harvest. All the while, villagers enjoy themselves and the sake flows.
9th of September
On the 9th, the men in their “yaku” (bad luck) years, shake off their hangovers and carry a heavy “Omikoshi” through the village. The villagers donate bottles of sake to the action taking place which not only adds to the spectacle but also the time it takes for the men to complete their mission of carrying the Omikoshi to Yuzawa Shrine. Everybody is on hand to cheer them on and help them up the stairs of the Shrine around sunset.
All in all, it’s a magic time to be in the village. If you or someone you know lives in Japan (a great escape for Tokyoites) or happen to know someone who’ll be in the country during this period, make sure to let them know.
Feel free to hit us up with any questions we may not have covered above and to discuss accommodation options. Of course, there are plenty of other things to do either side of the events to create a true mountain escape in our traditional little village. In the lead-up to the festival is our yoga retreat period, running throughout the Green Season. Nothing creates an authentic retreat to the mountains better than meditation, fresh mountain produce and an onsen! Check out our Green Season video below.