From late summer to early fall, the dazzling season of Tohoku

Bid farewell to the quick summer with a grand festival, and welcome the beginning of the fall.
Enjoy the late summer to early fall, when Tohoku is most vibrant.

The Shinjo Matsuri, a resplendent and soulful late-summer festival

The summers of the Tohoku region are short, and for this reason there are impressive festivals held around the region to fully enjoy the momentary season. While most of these events are scheduled in early August, the Shinjo Matsuri takes place towards the end of August. It has recently become more famous as a magnificent festival that celebrates the finale of the Tohoku summer festivals.

The highlight in this festival is the parading of floats, which is possibly one of the most impressive in Japan. A total of 20 floats are brought to the festival from each neighborhood of the region to display their brilliance against each other. In this festival, the themes for the floats are chosen from Kabuki or historical stories and depicted with exaggeration to add an air of entertainment. Since it began in 1756, the scale of the event has grown together with the passion of the local people, and has developed into the event we know to this day. Visitors will no doubt appreciate the pride of the Tohoku people towards the festival when hearing them cheer “Cheren Koyassa” and watching the parade of grand, historic scenes.

Apart from the float parade, there are plenty of other events such as the Mikoshi (portable shrine) parade where 200 people dressed as warriors appear and the Shishi-Odori, a folk dance featuring people wearing deer-like costumes. It is a summer festival for those who wish to experience an old-fashioned, traditional culture.

Shinjo Matsuri

Address:
1-1 Tamonmachi, Shinjo-shi, Yamagata & Other venues
Exhibition fee:
Free * Charged seats (reservation required) separately cost ¥1,500-¥2,000 (only by tel. ;81-233-23-4865)
Festival date:
Aug. 24-26
TEL:
+81-233-22-6855 (Shinjo Matsuri Executive Committee)
Official website:
http://shinjo-matsuri.jp/

Other major Tohoku summer festivals held in late August

August 16
Daimonji Matsuri
Odate-shi, Akita prefecture
Enjoy dances and parades during the day, and be awed by the fireworks and the “大” character lit by fire on Mt. Houou
Official website

August 16-18
Nishimonai Bon Odori
Ugomachi, Ogachi-gun, Akita prefecture
A traditional and elegant Bon Odori (a dance offered to ancestors, performed during the Obon season)
Town office website

©hanawabayashi.com

August 19/ 20
Hanawabayashi
Kazuno-shi, Akita prefecture
Has a history of over 800 years, with 10 magnificent stalls that light up the night with the music of flutes and drums.
Official website

Experience “Imoni-Kai”, a unique Tohoku tradition of the fall

Enjoy the delicacy and scale of the No. 1 Imoni-Kai Festival in Japan

Imoni-Kai is a tradition in the fall of Tohoku. This is an event where people assemble by the river to cook and eat the traditional dish of Imoni (taro root stew). It’s quite similar to a large bbq gathering where everyone eats the local soul food. There are many who join in every weekend during the season in Yamagata and Miyagi prefecture.

The “No. 1 Imoni-Kai Festival in Japan” is held by the riverside in Yamagata city, and here it is possible to understand the Tohoku people’s love towards Imoni-Kai. An iron pot that is 6 meters in diameter is brought in to prepare and serve Imoni for 30,000 people. Many people visit from and outside of town each year to be amazed by the scale of the event and also casually take part in it.

3 tons of taro roots along with a plethora of local ingredients of Yamagata are stewed in the giant pot. Enjoy the event as you watch special construction machines display incredible cooking skills, cheering to the delicious smell of the Imoni, and by taking part in the excitement outdoors as everyone awaits for the Imoni to be served.

The ingredients and flavor of Imoni can vary according to regions, however the standard style in Yamagata is soy sauce based with beef in a large pot. 1 bowl is served for ¥300 (Imoni fund). Numbered tickets are handed out from 8:30 a.m.*, and people can receive their Imoni in order of the ticket numbers once they are ready. Apart from the area of the large pot, there is a reserved tent section resembling a tea rest house available for those who wish to reserve a seating spot and relax as they eat. Don’t miss out on other delicacies of Yamagata to accompany the Imoni such as soba and local drinks.
* Time may vary slightly

No. 1 Imoni-Kai Festival in Japan

Address:
By the Mamigasaki River, Yamagata-shi, Yamagata (nearby Soutsukihashi )
Participation fee:
Free (drinks, Imoni-chaya (tea rest house) is charged separately)
Festival date:
Sep. 18
TEL:
+81-23-622-0141 (No.1 Imoni-Kai Festival in Japan Council Office)

No need to bring anything to the Sendai Imoni-Kai
Held at Akiu Kinoie Lodge Village/ nearby Sendai

The Kinoie Lodge Village in Sendai city is recommended for those who want to enjoy Imoni-Kai without having to worry about schedules.

No need to bring anything as utensils and ingredients are all prepared, so all you have to do is cook. Visitors can also enjoy in rainy weather as there are lodges (separately charged for use) and facilities with roofs. The Imoni in Sendai uses pork and is flavored with miso. The event is held from Sep. to Nov., and reservation for 2 people or more is required.
* Spaces are limited

Akiu Kinoie Lodge Village/ nearby Sendai

Address:
2-1 Aza Maoto, Akiumachi Yumoto, Taihaku-ku, Sendai-shi
Fee:
From ¥1,800 per person (reservation required)
Event period:
Sep. 1-Nov. 30 Open throughout the period
Open hours:
10:00-16:30 (ingredients served from 11:00)
TEL:
+81-22-397-2714

Experience the fall harvest season at the popular guesthouse, Komeyakata

Fall is perfect for experiencing farming since the weather begins to cool down and it’s the season of primary harvest. The Tohoku region has a large farming industry, and there is a place allowing guests to experience the harvesting season. Komeyakata is a rice shop/ farm/ guesthouse that is recently gaining much popularity. It is currently run by 9 family members consist of 3 generations plus 2 members of staff. The guesthouse does not just simply receive guests with formal hospitality, but they also allow visitors to experience the daily life of farming in Japan, and this is what attracts so many people to stay here. Landlady, Mrs. Nao Sakai, and her British husband, Sam, have arranged the place to receive guests by putting their backpacking experience around the world to use.

Farming can be experienced only for guests staying at Komeyakata, and only if they wish to do so. Work is from 5:00 to 7:00 a.m., and is quite serious since the harvested crops are to be sold as products. Still, the atmosphere is always bright, with family members occasionally singing as they do their work. There are many guests who have fallen in love with the positive attitude of the Sakais and repeatedly visit them. The home grown rice is free to eat at the guesthouse, and is absolutely delicious to have after working in the field.
Komeyakata also has a farm stay system where guests are provided with free food and accommodation in exchange for proper farm work. This requires guests to stay for more than 10 days and the work can be quite tough, however the time spent with the Sakai family will without a doubt be an unforgettable experience.

Komeyakata

Address:
2-2-6 Tateokatsurugacho, Murayama-shi, Yamagata
Guesthouse accommodation fee:
¥2,500 per night Open all year round
TEL:
+81-70-5326-5663

There are also other farm guesthouses in Tohoku

Kamado

A farm guesthouse located near Lake Tazawa, one of the most famous sightseeing spots in Akita prefecture. Many visitors come to enjoy its rustic atmosphere with a hearth in the house and local dishes. It is also possible to experience harvesting and farming.

Address:
138-1 Aza Kurosawa, Tazawako Obonai, Senboku, Akita
TEL:
+81-187-43-2450

Aomori Nanbu no Tassha Mura
The town of Nanbucho in Aomori prefecture has been receiving guests to stay at farmhouses for over 20 years. Popular for its friendly system of accepting guests as well as realistic farming experiences that are offered, the town also attracts many foreign visitors.

Address:
Nanbucho, Sannohegun, Aomori
TEL:
+81-80-9072-8766

Aomori Airport

From Osaka Itami Airport

75 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 3※

Odate-Noshiro Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

70 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

Akita Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

65 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 5※

From Nagoya Chubu Airport

85 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

From Osaka Itami Airport

90 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 3※

Shonai Airport

From Tokyo Haneda Airport

60 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 4※

Sendai Airport

From Tokyo Narita Airport

65 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 2※

From Nagoya Chubu Airport

75 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 6※

From Osaka Itami Airport

75 minutes

Number of departures per day: Approx. 7※

*Information correct as of July 29 2016

Details correct as of end of July 2016.