Festival guided tours

Our area has amazing local festivals and events with deep histories, and some are even designated National Significant Intangible Folk Culture Assets. Our guided tours for events include some background to help you make sense of the ceremony/festival, before we head to the festival and make sure you can get the most out of your visit.

Feel free to ask us any questions you have about the festivals you see here!

Please note sometimes the dates will change for these festivals as they're very local. We have made our best effort to give concrete dates below, but for tours we confirm as much as we can with the organisers.

Mt. Horaiji New Years temple visit and climb - an atmospheric and solemn way to ring in the new year

Each New Year's Eve, the forest of Mt. Horaiji is filled with 108 timed chimes of the Bell Tower's bell. Locals and visitors alike climb the tower and ring the bell to welcome the new year. Join us on a midnight hike up the steps to the temple, where we ring in the new year. We volunteer to help organise the bell rings, so there is enough time for guests to relax in the atmosphere, ring the bell a few times, and maybe even hear Shingon Buddhism chanting!

Event date: 31st Dec/1st Jan each year

Mt. Horaiji Dengaku - a historic and very local prayer ceremony

Dengaku ceremonies around Japan are for locals to pray to Gods for their harvest, luck, and many other things. Each dengaku is special and has its own atmosphere depending on the locals and the history.

The Mt. Horaiji Dengaku is a Designated Cultural Asset, with origins from 800+ years ago, and many dances and ceremonies performed by locals. Will you be lucky and catch the arrow fired at the mountain?

Event date: 3rd Jan each year

Yuyaonsen Hanamatsuri - a perfect introduction to the demons and fun of this unique mountain ceremony

Hanamatsuri ('flower festival') is definitely not what you'd expect by the name. With a history going back over 700 years, and only happening in the area deep in the mountains of Okumikawa, Hanamatsuri is a National Significant Intangible Folk Culture Asset rich in cultural history.

The Yuyaonsen Hanamatsuri is performed by locals from nearby Toei, taking only 2 hours instead of 3 days. It's a perfect way to experience Hanamatsuri for the first time and get to know deep mountain spirituality.

Event dates: Each Saturday in February (cancelled when raining)

Damine Dengaku - a historic, local, fun and sometimes crazy prayer ceremony

With a deep history of improvised dances ending in kicking burning logs, symbolic axes, and songs with too many words in one line, the Damine Dengaku is a very special and fun ceremony to see at the beautiful Damine plateau.

Split into two parts, day and night, this ceremony is for the locals to pray to the Gods, performed at the local Kannon temple.

Event dates: 10th Feb each year

Damine kabuki - a popular kabuki performance by locals to thank the Gods for saving their village

Legend says the gods caused a mid-Summer snow storm to stop a government official from punishing the village, and ever since that time Damine has performed kabuki as thank you for the protection.

The performers are now from a wider area, but locals still flock to the temple to see the stage light up once a year, with a special performance by children later in the day.

Event date: 11th Feb each year

Mt. Horaiji Fire Ceremony - walk over hot (warm) coals at this yamabushi (mountain monk) ceremony

See the head priest of Mt. Horaiji and Yamabushi pray to a fierce looking Buddhist god of protection by walking over fiery coals. The festival involves lighting a massive fire and burning charms while making prayers.

After the Yamabushi have finished, the coals are cooled for all of the guests to try walking over the coals, being blessed as they cross over. It's far less scary than you may think!

Event date: Each year third Sunday in November

Nobori (flag) Festival - matchlock guns fired in formation to remember our area's largest battle

The Nobori Matsuri commemorates the heavy losses on both sides during our local huge battle over 400 years ago - one of the most significant battles of the Sengoku time due to it's concentration of important samurai and use of Western matchlock guns.

Learn about the battle and its legends while seeing the matchlock guns and archery firing, and eating festival food.

Event date: Main event 5th May each year

Mt. Horaiji's massive Kasasugi tree's rice rope ceremony - a very local and special ceremony

The locals of the Mt. Horaiji main temple street come together each year to hand-twist a rice rope to place on the 60m tall Kasasugi tree, a God of the mountain. A few days after making the rope, it's carried to the Kasasugi where the head priest of Mt. Horaiji chants as people pray to Kasasugi. The locals are quite welcoming so joining this festival intimately is possible!

Event date: To be confirmed, generally late December.

Interested? Get in touch to know more