Three major shrines in Kumano Kodo area holds festivals in summer. Each festival has a different charm point respectively. so you must join and enjoy the summer festival in Kumano Kodo!
Kumano Kodo, an ancient pilgrimage routes more than 2,000 years ago, has been a spiritual and sacred place for the Japanese. After its registration as a World Heritage Site in 2004, Kumano Kodo area becomes much more popular so it attracts more tourists from all over the world who want ancient, mystic, and the “real ancient Japanese” experiences.
There are three major shrines called “Kumano Sanzan” in Kumano Kodo; Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine, Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine and Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine. These shrines holds a festival in summer, each has a different trait and charm respectively. These festivals are a must when you visit Kumano Kodo area in summer after you enjoy a stroll in the ancient pilgrimage routes!
No.3 YATA FESTIVAL
More than 2,000 years ago, the Emperor of Japan called “Jinmu Tenno” enjoyed hunting in Kumano Kodo area then lost his way in the dense forest. Suddenly one crow called “Yatagarasu”, an emissary of the God came out and led him to the right way. After this ancient tale Yata (crow) Festival is held, the theme of this festival is “Lead people to Happiness (right way)”.
“Mikoshis”, portable shrines with fire are accompanied by the solemn 70 people historical pageant. They advances from Kumano Hongu Taisha Shrine to the site where the shrine originally established a long time ago. The Japanese drums performance are also held here, local people dance to the sound . The Finale of this festival is a fireworks show, in the dark sky in the dense mountain area of Kumano Kod0.
Yata Festival – Kumano Hongu taisya Shrine Address : Hongu 1110, Hongucho, Tanabe, Wakayama Prefecture 647-1731 Access : 60~80 minutes bus ride from JR Shingu Station to Hongu-Taisha-mae stop. Date : On the last Saturday of August Website : Kumano Hongu Taisya Shrine (Japanese)
No.2 OGI FAN FESTIVAL
After you enjoy the Nachi Firework Festival at Kumano Nachi Taisha Shirine, you should directly go to Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine. It takes about 40-minute by car. Kumano Hayatama Taisha Shrine is famous for the collection of numerous ancient votive objects, many of which are registered as national treasures by Japanese Government. Once a year on 14th July, Ogi fans, one of its votive objects, are revealed to the public and used to decorate each shrine building.
In the premise many rows of stalls called “Yomise” appears, many local peoples visit and enjoy some snacks here. A typical scene of Japanese local festival.
Ogi Fan Festival – Kumano Hayatama Taisya Shrine Address : Shingu 1, Shingu, Wakayam Prefecture 647-0003 Access : 15 minutes walk from JR Shingu Station. Date : On 14th July Website : Kumano Hayatama Taisha
No.1 NACHI-NO-HI MATSURI FIRE FESTIVAL
In the precinct of Kumano Nachi Taisha Shrine there is a waterfall called “Nachi no Taki”, which is one of the highest in Japan. The Spirit of waterfall is believed to be present here and usually it stays in the Shrine premise all the year except one day, 14th July. On 14th July the spirit is supposed to return to its birthplace, the waterfall, from the shrine. Nachi-no-Hi Matsuri Fire Festival celebrates the returning home of the spirit, once a year.
Twelve portable shrines called “Mikoshis” as avatar of the spirit go through the route from the shrine to the waterfall. The Mikoshis are accompanied by some roaring torches. The size of the torches are quite huge, which are weigh about 50 kg. The scene of Mikoshis and roaring torches is so powerful and eye-grabbing.
Nachi-no-Hi Matsuri Fire Festival – Kumano Nachi Taisya Shrine Address : Nachisan, Nachikatsuura, Higashimuro District, Wakayama Prefecture 649-5301 Access : 25 minutes bus ride from Kii-Katsuura Station to Nachisan stop. Date : On 14th July Website : Nachi Fire Festival
Though the access to Kumano Kodo is not easy but you shall have fun with these festivals so let’s visit Kumano Kodo area this summer!