Get inspired by the kaleidoscopic festivals of Niigata, where culture, art and tradition all gather in the same place. From modern forms of art to age-old ceremonies, the region showcases its colourful personality in its rural landscapes.
Here are some of our favourites!
Echigo Tsumari Art Festival 2018
\Yuzawa・Uonuma Tokamachi City, Tsunanmachi/
Incorporating Art into the Countryside
Make it a point to catch this triennial showcase of colourful artwork inspired by nature and the local culture. Some 380 pieces will be displayed around the farmlands, turning the area into a treasure trove of art. Witness how innovative these artists can be and see how they cleverly blend their art pieces into the natural sites!
Event period: 29 Jul – 17 Sep
Nagaoka Grand Fireworks Festival
\Nagaoka・Kashiwazaki, Nagaoka City/
Spectacular fireworks Lighting up the night
Ranked as one of Japan’s top three fireworks displays, the Nagaoka Grand Fireworks Festival launches about 20,000 fireworks over a two-day period. The beautiful sparks light up the night sky, completely transforming the city’s atmosphere. During this time, locals also mourn the deceased, thus making it a more meaningful event.
Event period: 2-3 Aug every year (Nagaoka Peace Festival falls on 1 Aug)
Access: 30-minute walk from Nagaoka Station on JR Joetsu Line, Joetsu Shinkansen, Shinetsu Main Line
Website: http://nagaokamatsuri.com (Japanese)
Castle Town Shibata Festival
\Murakami・Shibata, Shibata City/
Goldfish floats parade exclusively during summer
For over 280 years, the Goldfish Float parade has been one of the most important summer events in Shibata City. Join the festivities as children pull goldfish floats and men jovially march the daiwa (大輪, portable shrine) around the town on the last day of the festival.
Event period: 17-19 Aug
Website: http://shibata-info.jp/archives/3311 (Japanese)
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Echigosekikawa Great Serpent Festival
\Murakami・Shibata, Sekikawa Village/
Enormous straw snake parading the town
Since 1988, it has been a customary practice for the locals to parade through the town with a lcoally-made, 80-metre-long, bamboo straw serpent weighing over 2,000 kilograms to warn others against the dangers of flood waters. On this occasion, about 500 residents gather together to carry the snake before coiling it up at the village office.
Event period: 26 Aug (The fireworks display and Bon Odori festival are held on 25 Aug)
Hours: [snake parade] 9.30am – 12pm [fukumaki] see the snake coil up after the parade at Sekikawa Village Office
Website: www.niigata-kankou.or.jp/sys/data?page-id=2222 (Japanese)
Getting to Niigata:
From Tokyo – the easiest way to get to Niigata is to hop on a Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo Station. This route only takes 100 minutes and is covered by the JR East Pass. Once you purchase the flexible 5-day JR East Pass (for Nagano, Niigata area), you have a 14-day period to use it.
Do visit Niigata’s official website to find out more!
(This is an online adaptation of a magazine feature from WAttention Singapore Nov/Dec 2018 Vol. 47, in collaboration with Niigata Prefecture)