Huge Decorative Floats and Mikoshi Parades at the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival
Dazzingly decorative floats and traditional mikoshi (portable shrine) parades awaid you at the Hachinohe Sansha Taisai festival, held annually during the five days between July 31 and August 4th. Over 20 floats are beautifully lit up and displayed in the city center on the eve of the first day, and on the night following the festival finale, where you can enjoy the festive collaboration of the floats and traditional bands. Each float is designed and crafted by an individual float team, with figures and symbology from Japanese myths, legends, and Kabuki theatre.
The festival is celebrated to give prayers to the deities for a good harvest, and with the Hachinohe Sansha Matsuri festival, you can feel that tradition with the "Otori" on August 1st, and "Okaeri" on August 3rd. You can enjoy a wide variety of parades, including mikoshi parades from Ogami Shrine, Shinra Shrine, and Shinmei Shrine, as well as the "Chigo parades" in which kids are dressed in traditional costumes. Musha parades feature Japanese samurai warriers. Kagura is traditional Shinto dance and music offered to the kami deities, and the tora mai is a tiger dance which can be seen before and after the float parades.
Floats can be over 10 meters tall, and some are equipped with mechanisms to extend their width to match the width of the road. On some floats the giant characters of legend move up and down like puppets, adding an eerie sense of life to the already impressive display.
Midday on August 2nd a traditional sporting event is held called Kagami-ryu Kiba Dakyu, which is an ancient form of Japanese polo played by people in the traditional hunting costumes at Chojasan Shinra Shrine. In the evening there are float parades and other festivities, with music played by each float team.
The city of Hachinohe sits at the very northern end of Japan's main island of Honshu, in Aomori prefecture, and although Hachinohe sees relatively few tourists compared to Japan's 'golden route' between Osaka and Tokyo, this comparative seclusion coupled with the festival's 290-year history help to make the whole experience an unforgettable one.
Hachinohe Sansha Taisai Festival