Yamagata festivals

Japanese people take their festivals very seriously, they are the source of much local pride and a lot of time, money and energy are devoted to them. All festivals are free to watch.


Here are some of the best

Tokunai festival (Murayama city)

Tokunai festival is named after Murayamas most famous son, Mogami Tokunai, who explored Hokkaido and the northern islands, it takes place on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nearest to the 21st of August and attracts crowds of around  240,000 people. Teams of dancers parade through the town with their bands on richly decorated floats. This energetic dance is loosly based on karate kata and is dynamic and exciting. 

Ghost house festival (Murayama city)

This is a small and intimate festival in Murayama city held on ............... The centre of town is closed to traffic for the evening and a ghost house and other attractions are held. This one is a personal favorite!


Bego Matsuri (Murayama City)

Bego is a local dialect word meaning cow. The Bego Matsuri is an enormous BBQ party held in Murayama city around the 16th of September where you can taste real Yamagata beef.


Please not that this festival is not free.,  

Bon Dance (Murayama city)

Obon is the time when the ghosts of dead ancestors return home for a while, its an important time for Japanese people to visit relatives both living and dead. At the end of the Obon period (around the 17th of August) each local community performs the Bon dance to send the ghosts of the ancestors back to the land of the dead. This is a community event rather than a festival per se, but its a beautiful tradition that guests are welcome to take part in. Local people gather at the community centre to perform the gentle and graceful Ban dance in the summer twighlight and enjoy a few beers and sticks of yakitori (grilled chicken). 

Hanagasa Festival (Yamagata city)

Over 10,000 dancers participate in the Hanagasa or 'flower hat dance' of Yamagata City between August 5th and August 7th each year. It is considered to be on of the 'four great festivals' of the Tohoku area. This stately and graceful dance attracts over 1million spectators each year. Yamagata City is a 45 minute train ride away from Murayama.

Oishida fireworks festival (Oishida town)

Held in the neighboring town of Oishida (a 20 minute train ride away) on the 16th of August by the banks of the Mogami river, this dramatic and impressive fireworks display shows Japanese fireworks at their best. 

Paper lanterns floating down the Mogami river help create a very special Obon atmosphere.

Sakata fireworks display (Sakata City)

Held around the 3rd of August this impressive pyrotechnic display is quite spectacular. Being close to the sea you can enjoy the show and then camp on the beach!

Shinjo festival (Shinjo City)

Designated as an Intangible Folk Cultural Asset, this festival has the seal of approval from the Japanese government!

This festival held around the 24th and 25th of August features a parade of richly decorated floats displaying dioramas of traditional folk tales, historical events and other dramatic scenes. 

Donga Festival (Kahoku Town)

Held around the 16th of September in Kahoku Town, this unique festival is over 400 years old. The highlight of the festival is an ancient masked  dance that can be performed by only one family in the town and has been passed on from father to son for countless generations. 

And many, many more!

From the Sagae City horseback archery competition to the mock Samurai battles of Yonezawa in the south, Yamagata is rich in festivals. Let our Komeyakata staff share their local knowledge and introduce you to some of Japans very best festivals.