Festivals of Shiga Prefecture

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This page is 90% complete. Last updated: June 6, 2013

by Philbert Ono

Shiga has numerous matsuri (festival) to celebrate or worship one thing or another. Most are held by Shinto shrines, and others are held by local organizations. Major festivals are listed in the event calendar below. April and May especially are prime time for matsuri in Shiga and Japan. Click on the links to see photos of the respective matsuri. If you want to see festival photos by city or town, click here. I also have videos of Shiga festivals on YouTube.

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Sagicho Matsuri Tsuchiyama Saio Princess Kaizu-Osaki sakura Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri
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Sanno-sai Festival Taga Matsuri Kusatsu Shukuba Matsuri Kenketo Matsuri, Ryuo
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Hino Matsuri Sushikiri Matsuri Shichikawa Matsuri Higashi-Omi Giant Kite
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Hyozu Matsuri Yuki Saiden Rice-Planting Biwako Fireworks Taga Taisha Lantern Festival
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Ibukiyama Taiko Drummers Otsu Matsuri Hikone Castle Parade Koto Sanzan foliage

More Shiga photos here.

Contents

January

  • 1-3 - Hatsumode New Year's worshipping at major shrines such as Taga Taisha and Omi Jingu.
  • Early weekend - Omi Jingu Karuta Matsuri, Otsu.
  • Entire month - Rape blossoms, Nagisa Park, Moriyama. This lakeside park is blanketed with golden-yellow flowers against the Hira mountains in the background.
  • 2nd Mon. - Coming of Age Ceremony with Giant Kite, Higashi-Omi
  • Mid-Jan. to Mar. - Nagahama Bonsai Plum Tree Exhibition
  • 9-11 - Toka Ebisu Festival, Hokoku Shrine, Nagahama. Shrine for business prosperity.
  • 2nd Sat. - Katsube Shrine Fire Festival and Sumiyoshi Shrine Fire Festival, Moriyama. Both shrines light giant torches for the festival's climax. According to legend, a dragon was finally slain during the Kamakura Period, and Emperor Tsuchikado then recovered from his illness. When the dragon was burned, the body fell on Katsube Shrine while the head fell on Sumiyoshi Shrine. Unfortunately, you cannot see the festival at both shrines since they are held around the same time. Katsube Shrine's fire festival is bigger with more torches, twelve of them.

February

  • Early Feb. - Oku Ibuki Snow Fight and Kamakura Festival, Maibara
  • 3 - Setsubun Bean Throwing at Taga Taisha Shrine, Taga. Feb. 3 is the Setsubun Festival at many temples and shrines in Japan. It marks the beginning of spring according to the lunar calendar. So they throw beans at ogre to eliminate the evil of the previous year and bring in good fortune. Taga Taisha has impressive ogre (called oni in Japanese) dancers from Shimane Prefecture to act as the demons to chase away during the festival.
  • 17-19 - Tamura Shrine Yakuyoke-sai, Koka

March

  • Mid-March weekend - Sagicho Festival, Omi-Hachiman. Dramatic parade and clashing of 13 or 14 colorful Sagicho floats carried around the streets and in Himure Hachimangu Shrine near Hachiman-bori Canal. On the first day (Sat.), the floats are paraded along the streets near the shrine and undergo judging for best design. The floats are works of art and made of edible materials mounted on a straw and wood base all to be set afire in the end. The second day (Sun.) of the Sagicho Festival is the climax. During the day, the Sagicho floats collide with each other and try to topple each other. At night, the floats are set afire. Sagicho is actually a fire festival.
  • Last Sun. in March - Tsuchiyama Saio Princess Procession, Tsuchiyama, Koka. The Saio princess was an unmarried, young Imperial princess, often the Emperor's daughter, who was appointed (by divination) to be the High Priestess of Ise Grand Shrines in Mie Prefecture from the 7th to 14th centuries. For about 660 years, over 60 Saio princesses served at Ise Grand Shrines. The new Saio princess traveled from Kyoto to her Saiku palace near the Ise Shrine. The journey took 5 nights and 6 days, and passed through Tsuchiyama in Shiga Prefecture. This festival reenacts the Saio Gunko procession in Tsuchiyama to Tarumi Tongu which was one of the five palaces where the Saio lodged along the way.
  • Late Mar. - early April - Cherry blossoms at Kaizu Osaki, Zeze Park, Hikone Castle, Nagahama Castle (Hokoen Park), Mishima Pond

April

  • 4 - Minami Sanno Matsuri, Hino. Held annually by Hieda Jinja Shrine in Okubo and Seon. It is like a picnic under pink streamers called hoinobori.
  • 4 - Yoshibue Day Concert, Azuchi, Omi-Hachiman. The Japan Yoshibue Association holds a yoshibue (flute made of reeds growing in Lake Biwa) concert on April 4 which they call Yoshibue Day. Various groups playing the reed flute gathered to perform a free concert in Azuchi's Bungei no Sato. It includes a concert hall called Bungei Seminario
  • 14-16 - Nagahama Hikiyama Festival 長浜曳山祭り - Held by Nagahama Hachimangu Shrine, the Nagahama Hikiyama Matsuri is Nagahama's most famous festival featuring authentic kabuki plays performed by boys around April 15. Several ornate floats on wheels serve as the stage for talented young actors. The floats are paraded along the main street as they a few stops to put on the kabuki plays.
  • 12-14 - Sanno-sai Festival, Hiyoshi Taisha, Otsu. Held by Hiyoshi Taisha Shrine and one of Shiga Prefecture's largest festivals, the Sanno-sai Festival features various ceremonies and processions, violent rocking of portable shrines, and a boat procession on Lake Biwa. Buddhist priests from Enryakuji temple also participate.
  • 14-15 - Hachiman Matsuri, Omi-Hachiman. Shiga's biggest fire festival held by Himure Hachimangu Shrine. Giant torches made of straw as tall as 10 meters are set on fire starting from 8 pm on the 14th. The festival is prayer for an abundant harvest. Very dramatic and impressive.
  • 18 - Kawakami Matsuri, Imazu, Takashima. Held annually by Hioki and Tsuno Shrines, this festival features a pair of very tall (18 meters), decorated bamboo poles called O-nobori carried little by little at a horse-riding course. There are also children in costume playing music with drums and bells and others carrying a decorated branch called sanyare.
  • 19-20 - Minakuchi Hikiyama Festival, Koka. Ornate Hikiyama floats are pulled through town. On the festival eve, the floats are lit up with paper lanterns from 7 pm and Minakuchi-bayashi festival music is played. On the 20th, at 9 am, the floats are paraded through the streets as they head toward Minakuchi Jinja Shrine (near Minakuchi Jonan Station). Portable shrines also make their way to the shrine. During midday, ceremonies are held at the shrine. At 2 pm, a procession of Chigo children and portable shrines leave the shrine.
  • 22: Taga Matsuri 多賀まつり, Taga. A long procession featuring Shinto priests, children in costume, women warriors, and more people on 40 horses. A total of 500 people were in the procession. There is a morning procession from Taga Taisha to Totonomiya Shrine deep in Taga's countryside, and an afternoon (main) procession going to the Otabisho, a short distance away from Taga Taisha.
  • 28-29 - Kusatsu Shukuba Festival, Kusatsu. Festival celebrates Kusatsu's history as a post town on the Nakasendo and Tokaido Roads. Numerous events and activities are held such as flea markets, street & stage performances, and Japanese dances. The main highlight is the Kusatsu Jidai Gyoretsu procession of men and women dressed in historical costumes.
  • 29 - Kaizu Rikishi Matsuri Festival, Makino, Takashima. Held annually by Kaizuten Jinja Shrine, this local festival features men dressed as sumo wrestlers (rikishi) carrying two mikoshi portable shrines around their respective neighborhoods. They wear kesho mawashi ceremonial aprons. They jostle the mikoshi during the day, and then at night they go to the shrine for the festival climax with lit torches.
  • 29 - Sakata Shinmeigu Yakko-buri Procession, Maibara. Reenacts the procession of Lord Ii Naonobu from Hikone when he came to worship at Sakata Shinmeigu Shrine in 1733 in Maibara. The men walk with a stylized, kicking action. It starts with a Shinto ceremony which includes dancing by shrine maidens. Held annually by Sakata Shinmeigu Shrine on April 29 at 2 pm near JR Sakata Station (Hokuriku Line).

May

  • 1 - Yuge Hinomatsuri Fire Festival 弓削の火祭り, Ryuo. Giant torches, fireworks, and firecrackers from 7 pm to 9 :20 pm. At Omi-Hachiman Station, go to bus stop 4 and take a bus bound for Okaya Minami (岡屋南) and get off at Nishikawa Higashi-guchi (西川東口). Walk 10 min. to Kobiyoshi Jinja Shrine (小日吉神社). Or take a taxi from Omi-Hachiman Station (fare will cost about 1600 to 2000 yen).
  • 1 - Aburahi Matsuri Festival 油日祭り・奴振り, Koka. The Aburahi Matsuri festival ceremony is held every year on May 1, but the colorful yakko-furi procession of over 100 people is held only once every 5 years (last held on May 1, 2011). The festival is held by Aburahi Shrine in Koka, Shiga. The procession features yakko samurai laborers who carry a trunk and sing. Others also dance. The procession makes a circular route near Aburahi and Koka Stations on the JR Kusatsu Line.
  • 2-3 - Hino Festival, Hino-cho. Held annually, the Hino Matsuri is the largest festival in eastern Shiga Pref. In 2006, sixteen ornate floats and three portable shrines were paraded through the streets. It is the spring festival of the Umamioka Watamuki Shrine and one of Shiga's Intangible Cultural Assets.
  • 3 - Miss Kunoichi (female ninja) Audition, Ninja Village, Koka.
  • 3 - Kenketo Matsuri and Odori, Tsuchiyama, Koka. Kenketo Odori is a dance performed by eight boys aged 7 to 12. The dance was originally started to ward off calamities. The boys wear tall peacock feathers on their heads. From Kibukawa Station (JR Kusatsu Line and Ohmi Railways), catch the Aikuru Bus and get off at Higashi Maeno. The shrine is a short walk toward the river.
  • 3 - Kenketo Matsuri, Ryuo. Held annually by a few Shinto shrines in Ryuo and neighboring Higashi-Omi, the Kenketo Festival is mainly a naginata (pole sword) dance and procession by boys dressed in costume. The main venue is Suginoki Shrine in Yamanoue, Ryuo.
  • 3 - Nabe Kanmuri Festival, Maibara. Annual festival held by Chikuma Shrine. It is a procession along the shore of Lake Biwa featuring eight 8-year-old girls wearing a "nabe" or pot helmet. The shrine is dedicated to the God of Food and the nabe pot is for containing food offerings to the god.
  • 3-4 - Omizo Festival 大溝祭り, Hiyoshi Shrine, Takashima. A procession of five ornate floats are pulled around the neighborhood of JR Omi-Takashima Station (JR Kosei Line). The festival eve on May 3 has the floats festooned with paper lanterns as they are pulled around. On May 4, they pull the floats around during the day and gather at Hiyoshi Jinja Shrine which holds the festival annually.
  • 4 - Shichikawa Matsuri Festival 2010 七川祭, Takashima. Held annually at Oarahiko Shrine in Takashima, this festival features a procession of yakko-furi procession, yabusame horse runs, and portable shrine procession. This is the largest festival in the Kosei area (western Shiga) and the only one featuring horses in Kosei. The shrine is near Shin-Asahi Station (JR Kosei Line).
  • 4 - Shinoda Fireworks at Shinoda Shrine, Omi-Hachiman. Held annually at Shinoda Shrine, the Shinoda Hanabi display is a surprisingly spectacular fireworks display. Torch fireworks, Niagara Falls, and panel-type fireworks provide an explosive experience. Good for people who cannot wait till summer to see fireworks in Japan. Walk from Omi-Hachiman Station.
  • 4 - Misaki Shrine Fire Festival 御崎神社の火まつり, Aisho-cho. Local people carry 2-meter long torches from their homes to the shrine. A taiko drum is also carried and beaten. The shrine has a 5-meter tall pile of bamboo that is lit to make a towering inferno within the shrine grounds. Very dramatic.
  • 4 - Iba Saka-kudashi Festival, Higashi-Omi. Held by Sanposan Shrine in Higashi-Omi. Three portable shrines are hauled down a steep mountain (Kinugasa-yama) for about 500 meters.
  • Early May once every several years - Niu Chawan Matsuri Festival, Yogo, Nagahama. One of Shiga's rarest and unusual festivals was held for the first time in six years on May 4, 2009. Held by Niu Shrine deep in a mountain valley of Yogo in northern Nagahama, the festival featured sacred dances by boys dressed as girls, three floats topped with lofty "balancing act" decorations, and a procession of colorful dancers.
  • 5 - Sushi-kiri Matsuri (sushi cutting), Moriyama. Held at Shimoniikawa Shrine, an unusual festival with two young lads cutting funa-zushi fermented fish (crucian carp native to Lake Biwa) as an offering. Festival spectators are then offered the cut pieces of funa-zushi.
  • 5 - Naginata Odori Matsuri, Moriyama. Held annually by Ozu Jinja Shrine, the festival consists of dances and music by children, taiko drumming, a naginata dance and acrobatics by boys using a pole sword, and a roundtrip procession from Ozu Shrine to Ozu Wakamiya Shrine.
  • 5 - Hyozu Matsuri, Yasu. Over 35 portable shrines are paraded around Hyozu Taisha Shrine. Two of them are carried only by women. They are called "Ayame," meaning iris flowers. One is a portable shrine (mikoshi) and the other is a taiko drum. Other mikoshi are carried by children and men. Very lively festival.
  • Early May - Asahi Regatta, Otsu. Japan's largest annual rowing regatta is held in southern Lake Biwa where the lake meets Seta River. Almost 600 rowers from junior high schoolers to age 60 and over compete during four days. Boys and girls and men and women row in teams of one, two, four, or eight in over 230 rowing races (1,000 meters).
  • 3rd Sun. - Otaue Taisai rice-planting Festival, Tarobo Shrine, Higashi-Omi.
  • Last Sun. - Higashi-Omi Giant Kite Festival 東近江大凧まつり - Higashi Omi (formerly Yokaichi) city holds this kite festival on the last Sunday of May at Fureai Undo Park (ふれあい運動公園) in Notogawa. The main highlight is the giant kite, flying at 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Also see kite-flying contests, exotic kites from around Japan, and stage entertainment. Anybody can fly a kite too. From 10 am to 3 pm. The festival name changed from Yokaichi Odako Matsuri to Higashiomi Odako Matsuri in May 2012 and the festival site changed in May 2013 to Fureai Undo Koen Park. Free shuttle buses run from JR Notogawa Station.
  • 4th Sun. - Yuki Saiden Rice-Planting Festival, Yasu. Held in a sacred rice paddy near Mikami Shrine, women and men in colorful costumes plant rice seedlings accompanied by singing, taiko drumming, and dancing. Starts at 10 am with a Shinto ceremony, then the rice planting is held from 10:30 am to 11 am. The rice paddy is called Yuki Saiden (悠紀斎田記念田) which was the used to produce the rice used for the Showa Emperor Hirohito's accession to the throne in 1928. Near Yamade-mae bus stop near the foot of Mt. Mikami.

June

  • 1st Sun. - Azuchi Nobunaga Festival, Bungei no Sato, Azuchi, Omi-Hachiman. Festival honoring Oda Nobunaga who built Azuchi Castle. Various events and activities highlighted by the Musha Gyoretsu warrior procession and a demonstration of firing matchlock guns. The boat ride along the moat is also enjoyable.
  • 1st Sun. in June - Taga Taisha Rice-Planting Festival 多賀大社御田植祭 - This rice-planting festival has 70 local junior high school girls planting rice in the shrine's sacred rice paddy. There's also a stage for ceremonial performances and rituals. A ceremony starts at 1 pm at the shrine, then the rice planting starts at the nearby sacred rice paddy at 2 pm.
  • Early to mid-June - Amanogawa River and Santo Hotaru Firefly Festival, Maibara
  • Sun. in mid-June - Biwako Shuko no Uta (Lake Biwa Rowing Song) Choir Contest, Omi-Imazu, Takashima. Held annually in June since 1997, this song contest has over 20 choirs, mainly from western Japan, compete by singing two songs each. One song they must sing is Biwako Shuko no Uta, while the other song can be anything.
  • Mid June - Suzuka Magouta National Singing Contest, Tsuchiyama, Koka.

July

  • Lake Biwa beaches such as Omi-Maiko open for swimming.
  • Weekend in late July or early Aug. - Japan International Birdman Rally, Hikone 鳥人間コンテスト, Hikone. Held annually since 1977, contestants from all over Japan compete to see who can fly the furthest over Lake Biwa in their handmade and human-powered flying contraptions. On Sat., they will hold time trials for propeller planes and the glider contest. On Sun., human-powered propeller planes will compete for distance. The event is held on Matsubara Beach in Hikone, right near the Japan Center for Michigan Universities. Note that the event schedule/holding is subject to weather conditions. If it’s too windy (typhoon), it can be canceled or postponed. Sponsored by Yomiuri TV who will broadcast the contest on a later date. http://www.ytv.co.jp/birdman/index.html
  • 4th Sun. - Shigaraki Fire Festival, Koka. Impressive procession of 700 torches following a 2.2 km route from the Shigaraki Chiiki Shimin Center (甲賀市信楽地域市民センター) to the Atago area starting at 7:45 pm. The procession is 50 min. long. Followed by fireworks until 10 pm. http://www.shigaraki.or.jp/fire_fes/index.htm
  • 28-29 - Mitarashi Festival, Otsu
  • Late July - Shotoku Matsuri, Higashi-Omi. Folk dance festival in front of Yokaichi Station on the Omi Railways. Hundreds of people will dance the Goshu Ondo (江州音頭) which is a bon dance and folk song native to Shiga. First there will be a parade of mascot characters from 7 pm to 7:40 pm, followed by the folk dancers from 7:50 pm to 8:40 pm. http://www.odakocci.jp/pickup/matsuri.html
  • Late July - Kashiwabara-juku Yaito Matsuri. Kashiwabara, a post town on the Nakasendo Road, holds a summer festival. "Yaito" means mogusa or moxa cautery. Stage entertainment, procession, food booths, and fireworks. This is the only time the public can enter and see the large Fukusuke statue inside the Ibuki-do (Kameya) shop made famous by Hiroshige's woodblock print.
  • Last weekend - Lotus Festival, Karasuma Peninsula, Kusatsu. Karasuma Peninsula includes Lake Biwa Museum and a huge lotus field that blooms in July. The weekend festival is scheduled to have some musical entertainment (taisho koto and yoshibue reed flutes). http://www.mizunomori.jp/index.php?flg=topics&sflg=798&eref=20120728

August

  • 1 - Hikone Fireworks, Hikone at Matsubara Beach. On Matsubara Beach, spectacular fireworks over the lake, including a 15-min. finale. Expect a large crowd. If canceled due to foul weather, it will be postponed to Aug. 2. Shuttle buses will be provided from JR Hikone Station taking you to the Hikone Sports Ground (県立彦根総合運動場) from where you walk to the beach for 15 min. http://www.hikoneshi.com/jp/event/articles/c/hanabi
  • 1 - Biwako Otsu Natsu Matsuri, Otsu. Evening summer festival near Hama-Otsu. Stage entertainment and large-scale Bon dancing (Goshu Ondo).
  • 5 - Nagahama Fireworks, Nagahama Port.
  • 1st Sun. - Kannon-no-Sato Furusato Matsuri, Takatsuki, Nagahama. Tour temples famous for Kannon statues.
  • Aug. 3-5 - Taga Taisha Mantosai Lantern Festival 多賀大社万燈祭, Taga. Held at Taga Taisha Shrine in Taga, the Mantosai or 10,000-Lantern Festival is a beautiful night festival when over 10,000 paper lanterns are lit within the shrine grounds from 7 pm to 9:30 pm. The donated lanterns are for the repose of ancestral spirits. Various sacred dances and entertainment are also held nightly during the weekend festival. http://www.tagataisya.or.jp/info/mantou/index.html
  • Early Aug. - Shiga B-class Gourmet Battle, Otsu 滋賀B級グルメバトル. B-class gourmet (B-kyu in Japanese) is food that is cheap and aimed at the working class. It also includes good ‘ol home cooking. The Hama-Otsu lakefront (near Hama-Otsu Station on the Keihan Line) will have 60 food booths serving cheap food (priced from 100 to 500 yen) using homegrown ingredient(s) from Shiga such as Omi-gyu beef, red konyaku (devil’s tongue), and fish from Lake Biwa. It is a “battle” or contest where the food booths receive popular votes (via disposable chopsticks) from customers. A jazz festival will also be held and fireworks on both nights at 8:50 pm. Note that the food booths require tickets instead of cash. You can buy 1,000-yen ticket books having ten 100 yen tickets. The food festival was held for the first time last July and turned out to be wildly popular with a total of 120,000 people attending over the two-day period. It was so crowded and many booths ran out of food quickly. Best to go early. I only dread the summer heat, standing in long lines in front of the popular booths. Fortunately, even the not-so-popular food booths were good. Read my report for last year here. http://www.b-shiga.com/
  • 8 - Biwako Fireworks, Otsu. Big display, but a steep admission (around 4,000 yen) is charged in prime viewing areas along Hama-Otsu. Hama-Otsu Port will be totally walled off so you cannot see the fireworks from the street. Farther away is the free area along Nagisa Park which is terribly crowded with people reserving viewing spots from noon. Spectacular show, but have fun trying to get home via the tiny nearby train stations or gridlocked roads afterward. Foul weather will postpone it to Aug. 10. (If the weather is questionable, call 0180-99-3339 to find out if the fireworks will be held or not.) http://www.biwako-visitors.jp/hanabi/
  • 8 - Hikone Music and Dance Contest (Hikone-bayashi So-Odori Taikai) 彦根ばやし総おどり大会. Lively festival music and dance parade along Hikone’s main shopping streets centering in Ginza. The street will also be festooned with Tanabata streamers (during Aug. 4-8). http://www.hikoneshi.com/media/download/2012_summer.pdf
  • 14-15 - Hifuri Matsuri, Hino. Held for two evenings during the obon season (photo at top). Participants light their torches at Gosha Shrine and tap the torches on the road as they proceed to Hibarino park where the torches are thrown up to a large pine tree. The more torches get stuck on the tree, the better the next harvest will be. Near Hino Station (Ohmi Railways). http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~hino-to/099.html
  • 17 - Takebe Taisha Senko-sai Festival, Setagawa River, Otsu. One of Otsu’s Big Three Festivals, the Senko-sai is a portable shrine procession on boats going down Setagawa River from Seta-no-Karahashi Bridge to Nango sluice and back. Held annually by Takebe Taisha Shrine (worships legendary warrior Yamato Takeru) near the bridge. The festival starts at 5 pm when the portable shrines leave the shrine, and climaxes with fireworks on Seta River after the boats return at about 8:00 pm. The festival attracts few spectators (unlike the Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka), but large crowds start to gather in the evening for the riverside fireworks starting after the festival boats arrive back at 8 pm. Near JR Ishiyama Station and Karahashi-mae Station on the Keihan Line. http://takebetaisha.jp/event/
  • Mid-Aug.- Makino Highland Reed Torch Festival, Makino, Takashima マキノ高原ヨシたいまつ祭り The festivities start at noon climaxing at 8:30 pm with the lighting of numerous reed torches dotting the grassy highland area and ending with fireworks. The festival event schedule is yet to be determined as of this writing. From JR Makino Station (Kosei Line), take the “town bus” and get off at Makino Kogen Onsen Sarasa (マキノ高原温泉さらさ). Buses leave Makino Station once an hour until 6 pm (schedule here). http://www.makinokougen.co.jp/yoshitaimatsu.html
  • Sun. in Aug. - Imazu Regatta, Takashima. Held off the shore of Imazu and organized by the Takashima-Imazu Rowing Club NPO, over 100 rowers, young and old, participate. Some even come from Kyoto and Osaka.
  • 22-25 - Kinomoto Ennichi Festival at Kinomoto Jizo-in temple. Food and souvenir stalls and evening fireworks. Ennichi is the temple's auspicious or special commemoration days. When you go to worship on such days, your prayers will be answered in better ways than usual. The festival is held from 9 am to 10 pm.

September

  • 5-6 - Shirahige Festival, Shirahige Shrine, Takashima
  • 3rd Mon. - Hinade Shrine Sumo Odori Dance, Maibara. Near JR Sakata Station (Hokuriku Line) in former Omi-cho town is Mt. Hinodeyama with Hinode Jinja Shrine holding an annual sumo festival on the third Mon. of Sept. It features mainly children's sumo and a sumo jinku dance by about 16 men.
  • Sept. - Suijo Hachiman Shrine Taiko Drum Dance 春照八幡神社 太鼓おどり, a colorful and unique rain-making and rain thanksgiving taiko drum dance held by Suijo Hachiman Shrine in Maibara every 5 years. Last held in 2009. It starts with a procession slowly proceeding along 1 km to Suijo Hachiman Shrine. They include yakko-furi samurai laborers, yamabushi ascetic priests, flutists, and taiko drummers.
  • Late Sept. - Tsuchiyama Shukuba Festival

October

  • Early Oct. to early Nov. - Nagahama Shussei Matsuri. Highlighted by hundreds of women in kimono.
  • 4 - Asahi Honen Taiko Odori Dance, Maibara. The area of Asahi in Maibara is home to the Asahi Honen Taiko drum troupe whose drum dance originated centuries ago to pray for rain. In Oct., they perform their drumming and dancing after walking from Asahi to Hachiman Shrine.
  • Oct. - Ibuki-yama Taiko Dance 伊吹山太鼓踊 - Held at the foot of Mt. Ibuki in Maibara, in a settlement called Ueno where you board the gndola to go up Mt. Ibuki. Long ago, villagers in Ueno prayed for rain by doing the thunder dance by beating drums and bells, lighting torches, etc. Then after the rainfall and a good harvest in autumn, they danced in appreciation. This thanksgiving dance is now performed only once every five years as a local festival at a small shrine in Ueno. Last held in Oct. 2010.
  • Two days before Sports Day Oct. 10: Otsu Matsuri Festival 大津祭, Otsu. One of Shiga's major festivals featuring thirteen ornate floats displayed and paraded around central Otsu for two days. The first day has the floats parked and displayed on the streets and lit up at night (Yoimiya). The second day is the festival climax with a procession of all the floats highlighted by performances by karakuri mechanical dolls on the floats.
  • 2nd Sun. - Zuiki Festival, Mikami Shrine, Yasu.
  • Oct. - Apr.: Shiga Lakestars regular season games are held on weekends. For the home game schedule, see their official site (Japanese).
  • Day before Sports Day (around Oct. 10) - All-Japan Ninja Competition, Ninja Village, Koka
  • Three-day Sports Day weekend - Shigaraki Pottery Festival, Koka. Shigaraki-yaki sold by numerous vendors. The famous Shigaraki tanuki (raccoon dog) are also on display en masse.
  • Three-day Sports Day (Oct. 10) weekend- Maibara Hikiyama Festival
  • Mid Oct. - Shizugatake Tenka-tori Matsuri, Kinomoto.
  • Weekend in late Oct. - Yuru-kyara Matsuri in Hikone. Very popular festival where numerous mascot characters gather.
  • Late Oct. - Echigawa-juku 66th Post Town Festival.

November

  • 3 - Hikone Castle Festival Parade, Hikone. Called Little Edo (Koedo), the castle town of Hikone holds a Castle Festival on Nov. 3. One highlight is the castle parade of children and adults in historical costumes, especially samurai from the Ii clan. The parade includes demonstrations of matchlock gun firing and fireman's acrobatics.
  • 3 - Omi Jingu Shrine Yabusame, Otsu
  • Mid to late Nov. - Fall colors at the Koto Sanzan Temple Trio (Hyakusaiji, Saimyoji, and Kongorinji), Ishiyama-dera Temple, Hiyoshi Taisha (night lights), Oku Ibuki, Hyozu Taisha (night lights), Hikone Genkyu-en (night lights)
  • Mid-Nov. - Lake Biwa Hot-Air Balloon Race, Omi-Shirahama beach, Takashima

December

  • 1st Sun. - Tarobogu Shrine Fire Festival, HigashiOmi

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