When you think of Kochi, you think of the Yosakoi Festival! Every year from August 9 to 12, the streets of Kochi City overflow with music, decorated buses and over 20,000 dancers. It’s Carnaval, Kochi style!
While spectacular, however, Yosakoi is but one of the countless matsuri, or festivals, celebrated throughout the year all over Japan. Practically every city, town, shrine and temple has its own matsuri celebrating everything from local deities to snow sculptures. Kochi City alone has matsuri celebrating the castle (Kochi Oshiro Matsuri), the life of local hero Sakamoto Ryoma (Ryoma Matsuri), and even wigs (Katsura Matsuri) to name but a few.
No two festivals are the same, and they often vary quite markedly from one another. The scale of matsuri spans a wide range, from the massive, such as the month-long Gion Matsuri celebrated by tens of thousands in Kyoto, to the tiny, such as the one you might find at your local neighborhood shrine. Some festivals, such as Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri, have been celebrated for over 1000 years, while others, like the Yosakoi, are much newer. Many matsuri are religious in origin, while others are completely secular.
One common feature that binds all matsuri together, however, is that they are all community celebrations. A matsuri is a time when everybody in a village or town, and even visitors from elsewhere, shares in food, fun and friendship. Find out when your local shrine or temple has its matsuri and join in. You won’t be disappointed!
Taken from vol.24 PDF