What is Naha Matsuri Festival 

The Naha Matsuri Festival is an annual three-day-long celebration held in Naha, Japan, and takes place in Early Oct 2023.

It is one of the most celebrated festivals in the Okinawa Prefecture and each year, thousands of locals and visitors alike gather in the streets of Onoyama Park to celebrate this vibrant event.

During the festival, more than 15,000 people take part in a traditional tug of war and hundreds of people, children and adults alike, show up to enjoy the concerts, karaoke competitions, and the outstanding fireworks show.

The festival kicks off with the first day of the festival, which includes a spectacular Kokusai Street Parade, with traditional martial arts performances, Shishimai Lion dances, and Eisa dance performances.

The second day, also known as Hatagashira Parade, is marked by a big parade featuring Naha’s most talented performers.

Finally, on the third day, the main day of the festival, the big tug of war takes place and marks the end of an amazing weekend full or joy and enthusiasm.

Naha Matsuri Festival

History of Naha Matsuri Festival

Naha Matsuri Festival has been held in Okinawa, Japan for over 450 years, since the late 16th century.

It is an important traditional event for local people and a popular event for tourists from all over Japan and beyond. Every year, the festival takes place in Onoyama Park in Early October, and it is one of the most spectacular events in the region.

It has been estimated that 15,000 people gather for the three-day-long festival, which includes a series of traditional Eisa dances, lively parades and a massive tug of war game.

On the first day of the festival, visitors can enjoy Kokusai Street Parade and witness martial-arts performances, traditional Shishimai Lion dances, and Eisa dance performances.

The second day is Hatagashira Parade and the third day is the main event, featuring the mammoth tug of war. Visitors also enjoy various concerts, sing in karaoke competitions, and end their evening with a spectacular fireworks show.

For locals, Naha Matsuri Festival is an important part of the culture and history of Okinawa, while tourists and travelers can appreciate the vibrant atmosphere and take part in the joyous festivities.

The traditions, customs and values that are celebrated are rooted in the spiritual and cultural heritage of Okinawans, and the festival is a wonderful opportunity to experience local culture and customs. Without a doubt, it is a unique and unforgettable experience!

Overview of Naha Matsuri Festival Events

Naha Matsuri Festival is an annual three-day-long celebration that takes place in Early October, 2023 in Onoyama Park.

It is a truly vibrant event that features a collection of traditional and modern festivities that bring together more than 15,000 people.

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Every year, Onoyama Park is pumped full of energy as spectators and participants enjoy concerts, sing in karaoke competitions, and of course be mesmerized by the awe-inspiring fireworks show.

On the first day of the festival, one of the highlights is the Kokusai Street Parade that parades through the city as more than 100 floats take over the main road, mesmerizing spectators with their traditional Eisa dances and performances, martial-arts displays and even a Shishimai Lion dance.

On the second day, the commemorative Hatagashira Parade brings the streets to life with an array of performers and music.

Spectators can enjoy the floats and singers dressed in the Okinawan textile, the “Bingata,” as they parade around the city to the beat of the traditional umbrella stilt walkers known as “Hogon.”

The following day is the main day of the festival, where a 15,000-person-tug-of-war takes place.

It is a truly remarkable occasion and spectators are urged to come along to spectate or even participate in the tug of war. Come the evening, the streets of Onoyama Park become alive with live music, so be sure to stick around and get your groove on. 

For people looking for a full-on immersive fantasy experience, Naha Matsuri Festival is the one for you! As the day draws to a close, the sky is lit up with colorful fireworks as everyone celebrates the festivities with a bang.

Symbolism & Customs of Naha Matsuri Festival

The Naha Matsuri Festival is an annual celebration of traditional Okinawan culture and takes place in Early Oct every year.

It is one of the most well-loved festivals in Okinawa and is held annually in Onoyama Park.

This three-day-long festival features traditional Eisa performances and is a great way to experience Okinawan culture. 

The festival first began in 1546 and has evolved over the centuries. Now, the festival is characterized by a plethora of activities and events. Each day is dedicated to a different set of activities.

On the first day, the Kokusai Street Parade, martial-arts performances, traditional Shishimai Lion dances, and Eisa dance performances take center stage. The second day hosts the Hatagashira Parade, which is a walking tour of the city and its many attractions.

The third day is the highlight of the festival and is marked by a 15,000 person tug of war and other fun activities like concerts, karaoke competitions, and a fireworks display.  

The Naha Matsuri Festival is a great way to experience both the old and new traditions of Okinawa. It is an event where one can immerse themselves in a culture that has been around for centuries.

From the colorful costumes and lively music to the traditional Lion and Eisa performances, the Naha Matsuri Festival is a haven for those who wish to gain a deeper understanding of this remarkable culture.

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It is also a time to create happy memories and enjoy the beauty of Okinawa’s traditional culture with friends and family.

Meaning of Naha Matsuri Festival

For people who live in or visit Naha, the Naha Matsuri Festival is an extra special experience.

This three-day-long festival, held in Early Oct, is celebrated with fanfare and joy in Onoyama Park, and brings together over 15,000 people each year.

The spirit of the festival originates from the traditional Eisa rituals, which were brought over centuries ago by people from the Ryukyu Islands.

It’s an opportunity to celebrate Okinawan culture, with people singing and dancing in karaoke competitions and enjoying concerts in the park.

The highlight of the festival is the 15,000 person tug of war, which visitors eagerly look forward to every year.

The festival begins with the Kokusai Street Parade, the first day of festivity, featuring martial-arts performances, traditional Shishimai Lion dances, Eisa dance performances, and impressive floats honoring Okinawan culture.

The second day of the festival features Hatagashira Parade, an event where participants from different parts of Okinawa join in a colorful march.

The third day of the festivity is the main day of the festival. The tug of war tournament is not to be missed, as well as the traditional Eisa street performances and thrilling bon-odori dance.

As the night winds down, the festival culminates with a spectacular fireworks show that leaves the crowd speechless and a perfect way to end the three-day celebration.

The Naha Matsuri Festival is a beloved tradition that provides a chance to experience the culture of Okinawa and celebrate its history.

Visitors of this festival look forward to the joyous atmosphere as they celebrate with traditional performances and activities.

When and Where Does Naha Matsuri Festival

Naha Matsuri Festival takes place every year in Early October at Onoyama Park in Naha City, Okinawa.

Check out the location below:

It is an event that marks the oct of the Ryukyu Kingdom and celebrates the city’s history and vibrant culture.

Starting in the late 1950s, it is a three-day-long festival that’s full of activity that celebrates the city Okinawa’s history as well as its energetic cultural spirit. 

The first day of the festival is marked by the Kokusai Street parade, where 15,000 people from all over the island of Okinawa, as well as international visitors, march and dance their way down the streets of Naha.

Traditionally, the Eisa dance and Shishimai Lion dance performances will be on the front line of the parade, accompanied by martial-arts performances.

On the second day, the Hatagashira Parade takes place, this is a unique event that includes floats and participants that parade around various points in Naha.

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Competition events also take place, such as singing and karaoke competitions, shishimai lion dance competitions and fireworks shows.

The third and most popular day of the festival is often the most crowded, this is when the packed Onoyama Park becomes the backdrop for the 15,000-person tug of war and traditional eisa performances.

Spectators fill the park to enjoy the atmosphere, concerts and other performances throughout the day.

This day also marks the most popular and anticipated event of Naha Matsuri Festival and is often the most vivid memory of the festival.

Experiencing Naha Matsuri Festival

Experiencing Naha Matsuri Festival is a unique and memorable experience for all. From October 2021, thousands of people from around Japan, Okinawa and beyond come to celebrate and enjoy the traditional events, festivities and cultural activities.

The three-day-long festival that takes place every Early October in Onoyama Park, starting with the Kokusai Street Parade which is sprinkled with martial-arts performances, traditional Shishimai Lion dances and Eisa dance performances.

The Hatagashira parade goes off the following day, culminating with a 15,000 person tug of war on that third day.

On each day of the festival, you’re encouraged to participate in the various cultural activities and have some fun! You can join in the traditional Eisa dance or have a karaoke sing-off between friends and family.

Some may enjoy concerts and shows while others simply join the lively crowd atmosphere and people watch the parade and procession who came dressed in traditional costumes.

The festival ends with a fireworks display late in the day, with the tug of war team exchanging prize money.

It’s an incredible sight to behold with thousands of spectators cheering and shouting around you.

For those who have experienced Naha Matsuri Festival, it’s a chance to get an up close and personal insight into Okinawa’s rich cultural heritage and history, making it a remarkable experience that you won’t forget.

The Naha Matsuri Festival is truly a one-of-a-kind experience, taking place in Early October every year and culminating in a 15,000-person tug-of-war!

It’s no wonder why so many return year after year to come together to celebrate in the festivities at Onoyama Park.

Enjoy concerts, sing in karaoke competitions, and witness a firework show that lights up the sky. On the first day of the festival, visitors will get to experience a Kokusai Street Parade, martial arts performances, traditional Shishimai Lion dances, and Eisa dance performances.

martial arts performance at naha matsuri

The second day involves the Hatagashira Parade, while the third day is the main day of the festival where the 15,000-person tug-of-war takes place.

Whether you’re joining in on the celebrations or simply observing, the Naha Matsuri Festival is a three-day-long, unforgettable experience.

Don’t forget to mark your calendar and enjoy the warm hospitality at the Naha Matsuri Festival, taking place in Early October 2023.

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