Nara's Weird & Wonderful Festivals
It's one thing to visit lots of beautiful temples, but to really get to the heart of a culture, you have to meet the locals. Nara's festivals, many of which have continued for hundreds of years, bring you closer to this fascinating and often bewildering country.
- Wakamiya Onmatsuri
- In December, the streets leading to Kasugataisha Shrine are crowded with street stalls and visitors for this festival, one of the largest in Nara. Originally held to ward off sickness and pray for a good harvest, hundreds of performers parade in costumes ranging from the Heian to the Edo periods. Cultural Events Nara Park
- Yamatoji Winter Shikayose
- In February and March, the deer are summoned by a French horn player, to be fed acorns. Traditionally, it was hard for the deer to find enough food in winter, hence the daily event. Nowadays, tourists with shika senbei, deer crackers, keep the deer well fed. Nature Events Nara Park
- Spring Kemari Festival
- This early form of soccer can be seen in spring and autumn, with players wearing elaborate Nara period costumes. The event celebrates an historic meeting over such a game in 645, where the players plotted the overthrow of the powerful Soga clan, and ushered in a centralized Japanese government based on Chinese lines. Cultural Events Sakurai