Fukushima Waraji Festival

Fukushima Waraji Festival

Fukushima City’s local summer festival ‘Fukushima Waraji Matsuri’ started in 1970. It is said that, despite its short history, this festival has its roots in an Edo Period traditional event known as the ‘Akatsuki-mairi’ (or Mt. Shinobu Dawn Procession).

During the festival evenings, locals parade a huge straw sandal (known as a waraji) along Route 13. This procession is followed by many different groups, who perform dances around town. The first evening is filled with music from the Showa Era, while the songs of the second night are modern and very upbeat.

This waraji weighs around 2 tons, is 12 metres in length, and is thought to be one of the biggest in Japan. Every February, local people follow the tradition of dedicating the waraji to Haguro Shrine on Mt. Shinobu, which is thought to help keep legs healthy and strong.

Venue Details

Venue Details

Fukushima Waraji Festival Executive Committee

(+81) 24-536-5511

Best Season
  • Summer
Related infoThis festival takes place in the evenings (Usually from 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM)
Access Details
AccessRoute 13 in Central Fukushima City
View directions
Getting there

By Train: 5 min walk from JR Fukushima Station


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Cultural Experiences

Design Your Own Shirakawa Daruma

There are records of Shirakawa Daruma (Japanese traditional dolls) being sold as far back as the feudal reign of the Niwa Domain in 1627. Current Shirakawa Daruma are known as “Shirakawa Tsurugame Shochikubai Daruma.” The faces of these dolls are painted to incorporate various animals and plants, with the eyebrows representing cranes, the mustache representing a turtle, the ears representing pines and plum trees, and the beard representing bamboo or pine trees. All of these images are thought to bring good luck. The daruma is known to be a very classical, lucky talisman, started by Matsudaira Sadanobu, the lord of Shirakawa, when he hired the renowned painter Tani Buncho to paint the now famous face on the daruma doll. Once every year a large Shirakawa Daruma Market is held to celebrate and sell the beloved daruma dolls. You can paint your own daruma at the two daruma workshops in town!

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Shirakawa Daruma Market

Shirakawa Daruma Market

Shirakawa Daruma Market is held annually on February 11. On this date, the streets become lined for 1.5 km with stalls selling Daruma of all shapes and sizes. This lively, exciting market celebrates the culture and history of Shirakawa Daruma – a traditional doll which is characterised by having cranes for eyebrows, a tortoise for a moustache, beard made of bamboo, and pine and plum branches for cheeks, all of which make it a very auspicious item to keep at home.

Taimatsu Akashi

Taimatsu Akashi

With a history stretching back over 400 years, the Taimatsu Akashi is one of the three major fire festivals in Japan. As the night grows darker and the bonfires flare brightly here and there around the venue, groups of local junior high and senior high school students march through the town carrying 30 8-meter-long wooden torches called Hon-taimatsu, which they created by themselves, followed by a group of young men carrying the huge wooden torch called the Dai-taimatsu (10 meters long and weighing about 3 tons), and a group of women carrying a smaller wooden torch called the Hime-taimatsu (6 meters long and weighing 1 ton). These torches are carried to the top of Mt. Gorozan.There is also a wooden frame depicting Sukagawa Castle and a group of samurai warriors. As the drummers from Oushu Sukagawa Taimatsu-Daiko Hozonkai powerfully beat their Taimatsu-Daiko drums, the torches and the wooden frame are lit with a sacred fire carried up by a group of runners from Nikaido Shrine. The whole mountain looks as if it is on fire. The combination of fire and the beating of the drums is reminiscent of the days in the Warring States period.In recent years, this traditional event has become well known as a participatory festival, allowing neighborhood associations, local elementary school pupils, and tourists to join the parade to Mt. Gorozan, each carrying a thin torchwood called a Sho-taimatsu (10 cm in diameter).