Festivals of Japan: Himeji Yukata Festival
By John Asano
The Himeji Yukata Festival is a unique and beautiful festival held in the historic city of Himeji in Hyogo Prefecture. Himeji is of course most famous for its UNESCO World Heritage castle, which is regarded as Japan’s premier historic castle, comprising of some 83 buildings and dating back to 1333.
There is plenty more on offer at this historic city besides the famous castle. One of the great things to discover is the Himeji Yukata Festival which is held at the city center around Osakabe Temple. The festival held from June 22 to 24 starts in front of the famous Himeji Castle and ends at Osakabe Shrine.
The Himeji Yukata Festival first started in the time of Masamine Sakakibara, lord of Himeji, and is believed to be the largest festival of its kind in Japan. The tradition is now over 260 years old and is one of Japan’s most beautiful spectacles.
The Himeji Yukata Festival gives you the chance to see beautiful, colourful yukata, which is a causal cotton summer kimono usually worn to festivals in Japan. It is a rare chance to see so many Japanese dressed in this beautiful traditional outfit as well as a fantastic opportunity to join in on the action and dress in a yukata yourself. Yukata are available for rent at Jokamachi Style near Himeji Castle.Photo by Todd Fong
The festival features three days of colourful yukata as well as around 800 open air night stalls that line the street in city center. It is one of the largest festivals in Western Japan with around 200,000 visitors attending the event.
The highlight has to be the colourful yukata themselves as well as all the entertainment that is put on as part of the festivities. They include a yukata parade, a yukata fashion show and various dance and music performances. You can even visit Himeji Castle for free by wearing a yukata!
The festival takes place between 4:30 pm and 9:30 pm around the city center at Osakabe Shrine from June 22 to 24.
The Himeji Yukata Festival is a unique and interesting festival that allows you to not only sample a traditional Japanese summer festival but also be a part of it.
Location: Osakabe Shrine
Address: 33 Tatemachi, Himeji City, Hyogo Prefecture 670-0903
When: June 22-24
Time: 4:30 pm to 9:30 pm
Himeji is along the Sanyo Shinkansen Line about 40 minutes by train from Kobe. You can reach Himeji in about 3 hours from Tokyo or 1 hour from Osaka.