The Greatest Cultural Festival in Nagoya, Yattokame Culture Festival

Nagoya hosts throughout the year multiple exciting annual events, seasonal festivals, Samurai parades, and special cultural events for all kinds of audiences. During autumn, one of the greatest cultural festivals is the Yattokame Culture Festival.

The Yattokame is a journey through Japan’s traditional performing arts, history, and culture. In 2020, it will be held from October 24. to November 15., and for almost a whole month, you can enjoy a wide variety of Nagoya’s traditional entertainments: Noh theatre plays, Kyogen comedic performances, Geisha and Maiko traditional dances, street Kabuki plays, walking tours, and workshops.

Due to COVID-19 this year, many of these events and performances will be streamed online on YouTube. Which makes it possible to participate in the festival from the comfort of your home even when you are half a world away. Check out the Yattokame Cultural Festival Youtube channel.

Keeping the Culture of Nagoya Alive.

Yattokame Cultural Festival
The main character of Yattokame Cultural Festival. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Yattokame (やっとかめ) is a word from the Nagoya dialect, and means “a long time (since the last time)” or “it’s been a while (since I last saw, mailed, or talked to you)”.

Much of Japan’s performing arts have their roots on the bustling streets where performers entertained the masses. Performers created this cultural community that even today Nagoya’s locals strive to keep alive. 
This is their legacy and their pride.

Culture is something that lives, something to be shared, and passed on to the future. Tourism is one of the important industries that support, propagate, and create exchanges with the local culture. And therefore foreign visitors are warmly welcomed to the Yattokame Cultural Festival.

Get to know more about Nagoya Local Food with our Specialties of Nagoya Food Tour.

Specialties of Nagoya food tour

Variety Is the Spice of Life.

The Yattokame Cultural Events are divided into four types:
Performances around the city, traditional performing arts, workshops, and walking tours. Let’s look at them in detail.

Urban Performances

Many streets and stages in the city will hold different genres of performances.

Kyogen

Yattokame Kyogen
During Kyogen play. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Kyogen is a brief comic interlude that is usually played between acts of Japanese Noh plays (lyric drama). Performances are short and involve elements of slapstick and satire using an archaic version of Japanese.
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Street Kabuki

Yattokame Street Kabuki
During Street Kabuki play. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Kabuki is a classical Japanese dance-drama that emerged during the Edo period (1603 – 1868). Originally played on the streets, street Kabuki is one of the most representative performances of the Yattokame Cultural Festival.

This year the play will be based on a famous drama about Ishikawa Goemon, a robber that tried to steal the golden Shachihoko of Nagoya Castle. The play mixes drama and comedy. A must-watch performance!
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Kodan

Yattokame Kodan
One of the most representative Kodan storyteller in Nagoya. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Kodan is a type of traditional oral Japanese storytelling. This style is based on commenting on different current affairs in a satirical way.
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Nagoya Uta, Hauta / Kouta / Seicho Nagoya Jinku

Yattokame Uta
During a folk song recital. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Over the course of history, music has been an intricate part of all cultures.
Especially traditional folk songs that can connect culture and people while creating a deep emotional connection. The Nagoya traditional folk songs such as Nagoya Uta or Seicho Nagoya Jinku, are a way to express Nagoya’s culture.
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Sokyoku

Yattokame Sokyoku
Sokyoku, playing the Koto. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Enjoy the sound of the Sokyoku music with the performance called “Study of Love and Prayer”.
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Owari Manzai

Yattokame Owari Manzai
Duing Owari Manzai play. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Owari Manzai is a traditional performance, based on comical songs that appeared during the Edo Period (1603 – 1868). It is performed during the New Year and some other special events. This year the topic of the performance will focus on COVID-19.
*Free event. Youtube live streaming

Ozashiki Asobi

Yattokame Ozashiki Asobi
Mameka, one of the Nagoya’s geisha during the Ozashiki Asobi. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Enjoy elegant traditional Geisha entertainment while relishing a delicious seasonal Kaiseki dinner, sophisticated Japanese haute dining.

You will be able to spend a delightful time watching Maiko and Geisha dance and performances up close. You will also have the opportunity to chat and play a variety of traditional Japanese games with these amazing artists.

This year Ozashiki Asobi will be performed in English for English speakers so you can fully enjoy this unique experience.
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

Learn more about this event here

Shachihoko Challenge

Yattokame Shachihoko
Some challengers doing the Shachihoko pose. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

The Sachihoko dance, originated from Nihon Buyo, is a classical Japanese dance. This dance is a trademark of Meigiren, the Nagoya Geisha Association, and it is a required skill for all Maiko and Geisha of this area.

Challenge yourself and participate in the Online Shachihoko Challenge!

Here is a video demonstration about how to dance, so you can try it at home.

Learn about how to participate in this challenge.

Stage Performances

The most classic Japanese performing arts will be held on the most traditional stages.

Noh Theatre

Yattokame Noh
During Noh Theatre play. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Noh theatre combines elements of dance, drama, music, and poetry into one highly aesthetic stage art. Many of the characters including spirits, demons, gods, and women are portrayed by actors wearing extremely detailed masks and beautiful and luxurious garments.
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

Kaidan Tsukushi

Yattokame Kaidan Tsukushi
Kaidan Tsukushi storyteller woodblock print

Kaidan are frightening ghost folktales. Betrayal, murder, and ghostly revenge are the main topic of this rare storytelling genre.
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

Nihon Buyo

Yattokame Nihon Buyo
During Nihon Buyo play. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Nihon Buyo is a classical Japanese dance that originally formed part of a Kabuki play. The plays will focus on classical literary ghost stories as portrayed in traditional Japanese dance.
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

We can teach you from Japan wherever you are in the world how to wear a Kimono or Yukata with our Online Kimono (or Yukata) Dressing School.

Online Kimono (or Yukata) Dressing School

Workshops

Yattokame Bunkasai Wagashi Experience
Participants during the Wagashi making experience. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Feel and experience Nagoya’s history and Japanese traditional culture at the same time through lectures and workshops at historical sites and important cultural assets. 
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

Try one of the most recommended workshops in English.
Anko Sampling and Wagashi Making Experience

Anko Sampling and Wagashi Making Experience

Get to know about Nagoya’s breakfast from your home with our Online Experience: Nagoya’s Breakfast: Ogura Toast.

Nagoya’s Breakfast: Ogura Toast Online Experience

Nagoya Walking Tours

Yattokame Walking Tours
Participants during one of the walking tours around Nagoya. Image via Yattokame Bunkasai

Explore the city with new eyes together with local tour guides. From visiting the biggest central fish market in Japan to the most iconic sites, and secret spots of the city. There are plenty of walking tours awaiting you. 
*Paid event. Advance booking required.

Participate in a Street Food Tour of Osu. Book your tour today!

Street Food Walking Tour of Osu

One thing that you need to know before attending any event is that almost all these events are in Japanese language. So maybe sometimes it will be hard to understand, even for Japanese people. But some events like Street Kabuki, Nihon Buyo or Sokyoku are fun even without understanding Japanese. 

With the Yattokame Cultural Festival, you will probably find a new way to discover and enjoy Nagoya. Check the website for more details.


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Elisabeth Llopis
About the author

Web and Graphic designer living in Aichi Prefecture for more than 10 years. Trying to do the things that she loves and living the life with passion. She is also a travel-food lover and dance lover: her great passion.

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