Home to the majestic Mount Fuji and located just one hour by bullet train from Tokyo, the Japanese prefecture of Shizuoka is set to welcome an array of exciting events this year – from Hina doll displays and firefly viewing to spectacular flower festivals and awe-inspiring firework displays. Here, the team at Tourism Shizuoka Japan summarises some of the must-visit events in the region for each season…
Winter – early blossoms, Daruma doll market and Hina doll displays
Shizuoka is home to some of the earliest blooming cherry blossoms in Japan, and the Itokawa Promenade Sakura Festival (early January to early February) and the Kawazu Cherry Blossoms Festival (February) offer a fantastic chance to see them. Visitors can expect vast displays of the famous flowers, with deeper pink petals flooding the streets, alongside stalls selling local speciality, Japanese street foods and crafts.
The Fuji Bishamonten Festival is held at Myohoji Temple at the foot of Mount Fuji. This year, the festival is taking place in February (it is held in January or February as the date varies according to the Lunar New Year calendar.) The festival is also one of the biggest Daruma doll markets in Japan. Many stalls including the Daruma doll shops are present and visitors can get their very own Daruma doll from the various types available, which is regarded as a talisman of good luck to the Japanese.
In Japan, the Doll Festival (Hina Matsuri) takes place on 3rd March when families celebrate their female children and pray for their continued health and happiness by displaying traditional Hina dolls in their homes. Prior to the festival, each winter from January through to March, Kasuisai Temple holds the Kasuisai Doll Festival which attracts huge crowds all keen to catch a glimpse of the ancient temple decorated with over 1,000 intricately made dolls – the largest display of its kind in Japan.
Spring – fireflies, giant kites and floral displays
In commemoration of its 20th anniversary, the Lake Hamana Flower Expo 2024 is set to take place at two venues: Hamamatsu Flower Park from March 23rd to June 16th and Hamanako Garden Park from April 6th to June 2nd. Set against the stunning backdrop of Lake Hamana, the colourful floral event will showcase gardens by world-famous garden designers including winners of the Chelsea Flower Show.
In early May visitors can witness the Hamamatsu Festival, one of the most famous events held during the consecutive national holidays called Golden Week. Dating back 450 years, the festival is held to celebrate the birth of a family’s first born child. During the day the event sees large traditionally-decorated kites battling in the skies at the beach side, while as night falls the dazzling floats parade through downtown streets, each representing a local neighbourhood or district.
A truly magical sight, Firefly Viewing at Okawa Onsen Takegasawa Park is a must-see in early June. Full of diverse flora and fauna, the park comes alive by night in these months with the unmistakable bioluminescent glow of the beloved bugs. Local specialities such as wasabi and Japanese street food stalls can also be enjoyed in the park, adding to the unforgettable experience.
Summer – 3 million blossoms, fireworks, and Mount Fuji
The historical port town of Shimoda in Izu Peninsula boasts the Hydrangea Festival in June. The festival is held at Shimoda Park on a hillside where it looks out over the bay. Three million hydrangea blossoms adorn the park and visitors can enjoy the colourful display.
Shizuoka is famous for its firework displays, with the most popular summer event being seen at the Fukuroi Enshu Fireworks festival (July). The festival is also named “National Fireworks Expert Tournament”. Top-tier pyrotechnicians gather from all over Japan to compete. Visitors can expect awe-inspiring displays and lots of bang!
July also marks the start of the Mount Fuji climbing season, with locals and visitors alike flocking to ascend the famous mountain. There are three different routes in Shizuoka to climb the mountain, ranging in ability and duration.
Autumn – street performance and foliage
The DAIDOGEI World Cup, an event dedicated to street performance artistry, is taking place in November in Shizuoka City. Held yearly for more than 30 years under the moniker ‘The City is a Theatre’, this international event is one of Asia’s top street performance festivals gathering the most talented street performers from around the globe.
Towards the end of the year, the autumn leaves in Shizuoka are just as beautiful as its famous cherry blossoms and the perfect way to admire them is at the Atami Baien Momiji Festival which takes place from mid-November to early December. The garden that holds the festival is known for plum blossoms in spring and visitors can witness the foliage of the last leaves in Japan to change to their fall colours. The spectacular orange and red hues of Japanese maples are lit up across the garden.
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