The Aizu Tajima Gion Festival of Fukushima - A Top 3 Summer Festival in Japan

Tohoku Culture Aizu 2020.09.05
A flashy parade makes this summer festival a special event for northern Japan!
The Aizu Tajima Gion Festival
Not too long ago I wrote about my road trip through Minamiaizu, and took you to some of the best spots to enjoy a relaxing summertime getaway in Fukushima. But, while it's pretty easy to rent a car in Japan, if you're just heading north to the Tohoku region of Japan for a little while, and using public transportation, try to time your trip for the Aizu Tajima Gion Festival in late July! When I went in 2019, not only did I get to see one of the most famous Gion Festivals in Japan, I also got to join right in!

The Aizu Tajima Gion Festival is one of the most popular Gion festivals in Japan, together with the Kyoto Gion Festival and the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, and it has over 800 years of history. Held every year for the three days between July 22 and July 24, it's a big event for this laid-back part of Japan.
Children's Kabuki (子供歌舞伎)
A tradition stretching back over 200 years, this part of the festival isn't just kabuki theater for children, it's kabuki performed by children! Every role is performed by children, all on an outdoor stage, but these kids are clearly experienced and into their roles. The actors may be young, but that doesn't make them sloppy or untalented by any means!
  • "I might be a kid, but when it comes to kabuki, I know what I'm doing!"

  • The audience was entranced by the entertaining performance!
The Yatai (大屋台運行)
Pushed forward by the strength and enthusiasm of locals shouting to eachother using local slang, and full of excited little children, these "floats," called "yatai" (屋台) are noisy and bright, and they surge forward through the crowds with a chaotic energy. It almost looks like the different yatai are rushing eachother as if to fight, but at the last second they avoid disaster!
  • Like a feud going on for centuries, the yatai go at eachother.
  • That moment where you think "oh my god, they're really going to crash into eachother!" is something you can't quite feel just looking at pictures.
  • If you're traveling with a young child, they can ride in a yatai, too!
The Nanahokai Procession (七行器行列)
The real purpose of this particular procession is to bring offerings of wine, rice, and fish to present to the gods of the local shrine. But these offerings are carried by a long line of women all wearing gorgeous traditional Japanese bridal wear in eyecatching colors, making it one of the most popular events of the festival.

Originally the parade was made up of only women from local families, but these days people of all sorts walk with the procession, and unmarried women can sign up to participate as well! The participation itself is free, but you have to pay for the impressive hair, makeup, and borrowed clothing on your own. Of course, I had to try it out myself! Because there are so many participants, local beauty salons start the process at around midnight the night before. Of course, when I finally had my makeup and wig on, it meant I couldn't go take a nap, either! It was a fascinating and fun experience, but... it's probably easier to just watch!
  • Starting the makeover in the dead of night!
  • The kimono is fitted very tight and you end up wearing it for a few hours, so it can get a little uncomfortable.
  • All dressed up and ready to go!
With all the ways local children get involved, and the colorful costumes, parades, and performances, this lively festival is a little different from others in Japan! If you can make it up to Minamiaizu in the summer, don't miss the chance to check out all the different events that happen over the three days, and see if you can participate yourself!

For more info and updates from Japan, follow Japankuru on twitter, instagram, and facebook!
Basic Info
NameAizu Tajima Gion Festival (会津田島祇園祭)
The Tohoku Girl

【A Taiwanese girl living in Sendai:The Tohoku Girl】 I like Kotaro Isaka's novels so I ended up in Sendai. Let me introduce you to the beauty of Tohoku! ♡ Facebook: Instagram:

    Related Article
    Question Forum