Summer Lights of Mitama Festival at Yasukuni Shrine

In keeping with the ancient custom, Yasukuni Shrine holds the yearly Mitama Festival around July 13-16 as part of the Obon festivities. Mitama refers to the spirit or soul of the dead. During this season, Japanese hang lanterns and place offerings at the altars as prayers for their ancestors’ spirits to be freed of their sufferings. Since 1947, the Mitama Festival has lightened up the Yasukuni Shrine grounds with more than 30,000 glittering lanterns or chochin.

Handlers working to control a horse

Fujisaki Hachimangu Horse Festival in Kumamoto

Fujisaki Hachimangu is probably the most important shrine in Kumamoto and has a long rich history. It is closely linked to famous Japanese samurai such as Kato Kiyomasa and the Hosokawa family. In Autumn, the shrine is host to a fantastic four-day festival ending on Sunday with a horse parade through the city.

Winter fireworks in Nagaoka, Niigata, photo by Joi Ito

Top Things to Do in Niigata Prefecture

Easily accessible from Tokyo via the Joetsu Shinkansen, there are plenty of reasons to pay this part of the country a visit - and not just for the bucketloads of winter activities! Wondering what Niigata has to offer? Here are 15 of the best things to see and do in this part of Japan.

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