Kansai Information

UNESCO registers Nagahama Hikiyama Festival at Lake Biwa, Shiga Pref. as an Intangible Cultural Heritage

   The Nagahama Hikiyama Festival takes place at Lake Biwa, Shiga Prefecture in April each year. It is one of the Three Great Float Festivals in Japan and designated as a national important intangible folk cultural property.
   On December 1, 2016, UNESCO registered thirty-two Yama, Hoko, and Yatai float festivals in Japan, including the Nagahama Hikiyama Festival, in its list of Intangible Cultural Heritages.
   The festival is said to have begun over 400 years ago during the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568–1600) when Toyotomi Hideyoshi—one of the most celebrated warlords in Japan—gave gold to the townspeople to celebrate the birth of his first son. The townspeople used the gold to build floats.
   As Nagahama developed, float teams competed with each other, making alterations to their floats and adding lavish decorations such as fine woolen tapestries. Many of the existing floats were created during this time.
   The highlight of the festival is the Kodomo (Children’s) Kabuki, in which 5- to 12-year-old boys perform on stage. Their fantastic acting is as good as, if not better than, adult performers and receives enthusiastic applause from the audience.
   The festival begins on April 9. For four days from April 9 until April 12, young men undertake an offering of incense and shrine visits (Hadaka-mairi). On April 14, child actors parade through the streets posing as the characters they play in the kabuki performance (Yakusha-Yuwatari). On the night of April 15, floats decorated with lanterns gather in the Otabisho (i.e. a temporary destination or midway resting point for the Shinto ritual processions). To commemorate the registration as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, all 13 floats will come together this year.
   Visit Lake Biwa adorned with beautiful cherry blossoms in April and enjoy the gorgeous floats and children’s kabuki performance, which are recognized as world special heritages passed on from generation to generation.
Event Information
■Period:April 13 to 16 (All events take place from April 9 to 17)
■Location:Entire town of Nagahama City, Shiga Prefecture
■Access:10-minutes’ walk from JR Nagahama Station on the Biwako Line

Contact : Tourism Promotion Section, Nagahama City
Phone or E-mail +81-749-65-6521
Website http://en.biwako-visitors.jp/event/detail/9