The Atsuta Festival, Full Of Floating Lanterns, Traditional Performances and Fireworks

Of the roughly 70 festivals each year held at Atsuta Shrine, the Atsuta Festival (Atsuta Matsuri or Shobu-sai) is by far the biggest and most important. This festival is held every June 5th and signals the arrival of summer. Summer in Japan is the season of summer festivals and fireworks!

Atsuta Jingu, also called, Atsuta-san or Atsuta-sama, is the second most revered Shinto shrine in Japan after the Ise Grand Shrine in nearby Mie Prefecture. The goddess of the sun, Amaterasu, is enshrined at Atsuta Jingu along with one of the three imperial treasures, the sacred sword Kusanagi-no-tsurugi. Please note that the sword is never displayed to the public.

After the Ise Grand Shrine, Atsuta Shrine is the second largest shrine in Japan, welcoming over 9 million visitors a year. Atsuta Shrine was established around 1,900 years ago. Located in the heart of Nagoya, the 190,000 square meter shrine is an oasis of calm in the busy city.

The Atsuta Festival Marks the Beginning of Summer

Carrying the floats

Every June 5th, Atsuta Shrine hosts the Atsuta Festival to mark the beginning of summer. The festival is one of the largest in Nagoya and in fact all of central Japan and includes food stalls, traditional performances and fireworks.

Things to See and Do During the Day

Morning shinto rituals

The festivities begin at 10:00 in the morning with a special ceremony in front of the main sanctuary. The Emperor sends a messenger who together with the priests of the shrine performs a special ceremony dedicated to the gods and goddesses of the shrine.

Atsuta Matsuri
Traditional Japanese perfonmances

During the day you have the chance to see various traditional Japanese performances as well as exhibitions of different Japanese martial arts such as Kyudo (Japanese style archery), Kendo, and Sumo. Some of the traditional performances you can see include Atsuta Kagura (Shinto dance accompanied with music) and Taiko (Japanese drums).

Atsuta Kagura, is one of the many styles of Kagura dance that has been carried out at Atsuta Jingu for almost 1,800 years. Kagura, is a sacred Japanese dance ritual dedicated to Shinto gods and is accompanied by Japanese flutes and drums, and has been practiced to entertain the gods.

Things to See and Do at Night

Atsuta Matsuri
Food stalls

The festivities continue at night, with food stalls lining the area offering some tasty festival foods including Takoyaki (octopus balls), Kakigori (shaved ice), Okonomiyaki (a Japanese pancake filled with cabbage and meat), Castella cakes, chocolate banana, Tamasen (fried egg in a rice cracker).

Atsuta Matsuri
Different festival groups showing their floats

One of the most outstanding events of the night is the five Kento Makiwara, huge floats decorated with 365 lanterns. The floats are lit up and displayed at the three entrances to the shrine from 18:00 to 21:00.

Atsuta Matsuri
Fireworks during the festival

Finally, from around 19:40 an impressive fireworks display with more than 1,000 individual fireworks of different types takes place in the Jingu Koen Park for one hour, marking the ending point to the festival.

Atsuta Shrine (熱田まつり)
Entry Fee: Free
Festival Hours: The festival starts around 10:00. The Kento Makiwara are lit up from 18:00 – 21:00. Fireworks from 19:40 to 20:30.
Address: 1-1-1 Jingu, Atsuta Ward, Nagoya, Aichi 456-8585
Access: Take the Meitetsu Line train from Nagoya Station to Jingu-Mae Station. Atsuta Shrine is then a 5 minute walk from the station.
Website (Japanese only) | Google Maps

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About the author

Web and Graphic designer based in Nagoya (Aichi Prefecture) for more than 15 years. She is very passionate and loves Japanese culture and history. She is a expert tour guide on Sumo, Sake and Japanese crafts. She is also a photographer, travel writer....and a travel-food-dance lover.

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