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The Dragon Boat Race Image: Yokohama Dragon Boat Association

Unique festivals in Kanagawa Prefecture


Located south of Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture has such famous tourist areas as Yokohama, Kamakura and Hakone -- which are all well known. But there are also many unique festivals in Kanagawa which you can join in.

Due to COVID-19, some festivals have been cancelled, so please check the relevant website before you go.

Dragon Boat Race

Image: Yokohama Dragon Boat Association

China Town in Yokohama is one of the largest Chinatowns in the world with 140 years of history. The annual Chinese New Year celebrations are a riot of noise and energy, with lion dancers bursting into restaurants to perform for startled diners.

The other event is the Dragon Boat Race which is held in the bay in front of Yamashita Park on weekends around Yokohama Port Opening Day Festival.

In 1994, as a marine event for the 13th Yokohama Port Festival, six dragon boats were transferred from Hong Kong to Yokohama and the first Yokohama Dragon Boat Race was held. The 2021 Dragon Boat Race will be held on May 30 (Saturday) and 31 (Sunday). You can form your own team and participate in the race or just enjoy watching it.

If you’d like to participate in the race with your team, you can sign up on the website. A team should consist of one drummer, one rudder and at least 10 rowers. You can rent dragon boats, drums, paddles and life jackets at the association. On the day of the race, it is advisable to bring a change of clothes and marine shoes, since you will get wet.

If you would like to watch the race, you might have a picnic, feeling the sea breeze, hearing the drum and excitement of the race.

Image: Yokohama Dragon Boat Association

Image: Yokohama Dragon Boat Association


YUKAKE Matsuri in Yugawara (Hot Spring Water Sprinkling Festival)

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Mikoshi carried by visitors. Image: Yugawara-onsen Tourism Association

Hot springs in Yugawara are famous for their efficacy to cure. In the Edo era, they delivered spring water to feudal lords' residences or imperial villas.  At the starting point, the hot spring water was splashed over the palanquin to pray for safety of travel. A reproduction of this is the Yugawara Yukake Matsuri, which is considered to be one of the unique festivals in the Kanto region.

The festival is held on the 4th Saturday in May each year. The festival starts at Fudo waterfall and proceeds for about two kilometers to Izumi Park. Four mikoshi (portable shrines) parade through the hot spring town of Yugawara. Buckets containing hot spring water are placed on both sides of the road, and the people sprinkle hot water over the mikoshi. Both those carrying the mikoshi and those sprinkling the water get quite wet. But it is a fun experience.

Image: Yugawara-onsen Tourism Association

One of the four mikoshi has an open recruitment for those who want to experience being a mikoshi bearer.

Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, this year's Yukake Matsuri has been cancelled. Plan for next year!


Kanamara Festival at Kanayama Shrine

One of the most unique festivals in Kanagawa Prefecture or maybe all around the world is the Kanamara Festival held at Kanayama Shrine, which is a very quiet small shrine near Kawasaki Daishi Temple. Many people from all over the world come at the Kanamara Festival. If you are interested, please check the website.


For more information on trips to Kanagawa, visit https://trip.pref.kanagawa.jp/

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