Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.
Jul 13

Mitama Festival

July 13, 2023 - July 16, 2023

The Yasukuni Shrine, while recognized for its historical significance and associated political debates, sets aside these controversies for a few nights each summer to celebrate the remarkable Mitama Festival.

In Japanese, “Mitama” is a respectful term meaning “the soul of a deceased person”, and it’s precisely these souls that the festival venerates. The Yasukuni Shrine pays homage to those who have sacrificed their lives in defense of Japan, and the Mitama Festival serves as a precursor to the Obon season, a period during which Japanese individuals pay respects to their departed ancestors.

The festival occurs annually from July 13 to July 16. Initiated in 1947, it is considered one of the largest Obon festivities in Tokyo, even though the dates may not always coincide with the weekend.

During daylight hours, the shrine area transforms into a performance space, showcasing various dances and taiko drumming. Traditional Japanese festival elements, such as an array of food stalls (more extensive than most other festivals), games offering prizes, and a haunted house, can also be found. The audience is encouraged to join in a simple dance circling another stage, led by a team of dancers.

However, it’s the nighttime spectacle that truly encapsulates the festival’s magic. Over 30,000 yellow lanterns, which are strung along the shrine’s main pathway, are illuminated, creating an ethereal ambiance. Amid the thick crowds, teams hoist portable Shinto shrines or “mikoshi”, accompanied by chants and cheers. The fervor peaks with a marching band playing the Japanese national anthem and a pair of spotlights casting an X through the large torii gate at the entrance of the shrine. This event cultivates a unique feeling, a blend of intense national pride and respect for the people of Japan, which I have not encountered at any other Japanese festival. It is both celebratory and poignant.

While the Mitama Festival might not offer the most thrilling activities, it delivers an incredibly unique and authentically Japanese atmosphere. It’s a must-see for those seeking a truly genuine experience.

Details

Start:
July 13, 2023
End:
July 16, 2023
Website:
yasukuni.or.jp

Venue

Yasukuni Shrine
48-6 Towadakohanyasumiya
Towada City, Aomori 018-5501 Japan
+ Google Map