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2019 March Best Events in Japan

March heralds in the start of spring, with peach blossoms igniting towns and cities across Japan. This is marked by Hinamatsuri (Girls Day), which is also called the Momo no Sekku (Peach festival) and is held throughout the country. But Japan also hosts a number of other festivals and celebrations to look forward to.

In this guide, we’ve selected some of the most popular events that take place in Japan during March and the scenic landscapes that you can only see at this time of the year.

Index

  • Echigo-Tsumari Art Field 2019 Winter SNOW ART (「大地の芸術祭」の里 越後妻有2019冬 SNOWART)

  • Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day / ひな祭り)

  • Tsunan Snow Festival (つなん雪まつり)

  • Todaiji Temple: Omizutori (東大寺お水取り)

  • Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival (近江八幡 左義長祭り)

  • AnimeJapan 2019

  • Cherry blossoms

  • Echigo-Tsumari Art Field 2019 Winter SNOW ART (「大地の芸術祭」の里 越後妻有2019冬 SNOWART)

    Kyota Takahashi 「Gift for Frozen Village2018/越後妻有 雪花火2018」Photo by Osamu Nakamura

    Kyota Takahashi 「Gift for Frozen Village2018/越後妻有 雪花火2018」Photo by Osamu Nakamura

    As the heavy snows descend in Niigata prefecture during winter, the Echigo-Tsumari region celebrates with their Snow Art festival. The main event is the Snow Fireworks / Gift for Frozen Village, which will illuminate the skies on March 2. Don’t miss a visit to the Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art where a collection of snow-themed works will be displayed or the opportunity to try the unique festival meal of yukimigozen.

    雪アート・新潟ユニット「かんじきアート」イメージ

    雪アート・新潟ユニット「かんじきアート」イメージ

    越後妻有里山現代美術館[キナーレ]「雪あそび博覧会」 船井美佐「Super Nova―星の夜 雪の朝 世界は反転する」 Photo by Osamu Nakamura

    越後妻有里山現代美術館[キナーレ]「雪あそび博覧会」 船井美佐「Super Nova―星の夜 雪の朝 世界は反転する」 Photo by Osamu Nakamura

    Want to experience life in the snow country of Akiyamago? Visit Katakuri House where you can dine in a kamakura space that’s been created by shadow pictures and enjoy a guided walk along the ishigakida (stone-terraced rice fields). A range of Satoyama snow activities are also planned, as well as an exhibition highlighting the diversity of plants in Japan’s snow country.

    When: 19 January to 24 March 2019
    http://www.echigo-tsumari.jp/calendar/event_2019winter

    Echigotumarikoryukan Kinare
    Address
    Nigata Pref. Tokamachishi Honchou 6
    Phone
    0257520117
  • Hinamatsuri (Girls’ Day / ひな祭り)

    Hanging Hina Doll in Inatori Onsen of Izu

    Hanging Hina Doll in Inatori Onsen of Izu

    Celebrated every year on March 3, Hinamatsuri (which is also known as Girls’ Day or Doll’s Day) marks the start of spring and has long been associated with the flowering of peach trees. It sees ornamental dolls representing the Emperor and Empress dressed in Heian period outfits being displayed on platforms covered by red carpets.

    •Hinamatsuri in Ibaraki

    Makabe’s Hina Matsuri

    Makabe’s Hina Matsuri

    While the festival is held across Japan, the celebrations in the Makabe District of Ibaraki Prefecture (真壁のひなまつり) have become particularly popular. People come from across the country to wander through the historic streets and see precious dolls displayed by locals while enjoying the local hospitality and cuisine. Also popular are the celebrations in Yuki City where old stores and sake breweries are transformed into doll exhibition spaces.

    Article:Makabe’s Hina Matsuri

    When: 20 January to 31 March 2019
    https://www.ibarakiguide.jp/seasons/hina.html

    Iseya Ryokan
    Address
    Ibaraki Sakuragawa Makabecho Makabe 193
    Phone
    0296550176

    •Hanging Hina Doll Festival in Inatori Onsen of Izu

    Hanging Hina Doll Festival in Inatori Onsen of Izu

    Hanging Hina Doll Festival in Inatori Onsen of Izu

    In the hot spring town of Inatori Onsen, the rare and expensive handmade dolls known as Hina are displayed during the Hanging Hina Doll Decoration Festival (伊豆稲取温泉 雛のつるし飾りまつり). The tradition of hanging these beautifully designed dolls is said to bring good health to young girls, with flowering cherry blossoms only adding to the stunning scene.

    When: 20 January to 31 March 2019
    http://www.inatorionsen.or.jp/hina_sp/index.html

    Culture Park Hina no Yakata
    Address
    Shizuoka Pref. Kamogunhigashizuchou Inatori 1729
    Phone
    0557952901

    •Meguro Gajoen

    Hyakudan Hinamatsuri

    Hyakudan Hinamatsuri

    Hyakudan Hinamatsuri

    Hyakudan Hinamatsuri

    Every year, historic ornamental dolls from various Japanese prefectures are showcased as part of the Hyakudan Hinamatsuri (百段雛まつり) exhibit at the Hotel Gajoen Tokyo. This year will see dolls from Aomori, Akita and Yamagata prefectures, including prestigious family heirlooms once belonging to feudal lords and upper-class merchants, as well as rustic folk dolls.

    When: 18 January - 10 March 2019
    https://www.hotelgajoen-tokyo.com/event/hinamatsuri2019

    Address
    東京都目黒区下目黒1-8-1
    Phone
    0334914111

    •Sakuramochi

    Sakuramochi

    Sakuramochi

    The traditional food of Hinamatsuri is the sakuramochi, a sweet, pink-colored rice cake that’s stuffed with red bean paste and wrapped in a pickled cherry blossom leaf. You can find sakuramochi at department stores and Japanese-style confectionary shops throughout the spring season and they’re an essential treat to eat during hanami (cherry blossom-viewing parties).

  • Tsunan Snow Festival (つなん雪まつり)

    Niigata Prefecture’s town of Tsunan experiences some of the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. The resilience of local people to coexist with the snow is celebrated each year during the Tsunan Snow Festival. Among the events that take place are a snowboard straight-jumping competition known as Snow Wave, which sees skilled snowboarders show off their skills, and the Sky Lantern launch when hundreds of illuminated lanterns are released into the sky. Aside from being a magical sight, it’s an opportunity for people to deliver prayers or send messages for the health and happiness of their family and friends before letting the lanterns float towards the heavens.

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Tsunan Snow Festival

    Specialist food stalls set up around the festival events and you can see traditional performances of tengu dance, as well as participate in a range of family-friendly snow play activities. The Tsunan Snow Festival takes place around March 10 each year, with tickets released the previous December. So start planning ahead for the 2020 festival!

    When: 9 March 2019
    https://snowfes.info/

    マウンテンパーク津南
    Address
    新潟県中魚沼郡津南町上郷上田甲1745-1
    Phone
    025-765-4799
  • Todaiji Temple: Omizutori (東大寺お水取り)

    Todaiji Temple Omizutori

    Todaiji Temple Omizutori

    Shunie is the name for a series of Buddhist repentance rituals that have been taking place at the Todaiji Temple in Nara prefecture for more than 1,250 years. The most famous and spectacular event is Omizutori, which begins just after sunset each night and sees giant torches being carried to the balcony of Nigatsudo Hall (a sub-complex of Todaiji Temple). Here their burning embers shower down and bestow onlookers with a safe year ahead.

    On the night of March 12, the torches are larger and more numerous, attracting the biggest crowds. Between 1:30 and 2:30 am, priests descend repeatedly to draw water from the well at the base of the temple hall in a ritual known as Omizutori (“water drawing”). It’s believed that the well’s water only flows once a year and has restorative properties. This is followed by the Dattan ceremony that’s performed inside Nigatsudo Hall and features the ringing of bells, blowing of horns and swinging of burning torches.

    When: March 1 - 14 2019

    Tōdai-ji
    Address
    Nara Pref. Narashi Zoushichou 406-1
    Phone
    0742225511
  • Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival (近江八幡 左義長祭り)

    Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

    Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

    One of Japan’s most colorful historic festivals is the Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival, which takes place on the third weekend in March each year in Shiga prefecture. The origins of the festival are unclear, with some believing it was started in the 16th century by the warlord Oda Nobunaga and others saying it celebrated his death and the burning down of the castle.

    Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

    Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

    Today, the neighborhoods that surround the old castle spend months building impressive floats featuring the year’s lunar calendar animals and a tall pine torch decorated with strips of red paper. Men dressed up as women carry the floats through the street and play “fight” with one another before burning the floats to the ground amidst much dancing in the firelight.

    When: 16 - 17 March 2019
    https://old.omi8.com/maturi/sagicho.htm

    Omihachiman City Office
    Address
    Shiga Omihachiman Sakuramiyacho 236
    Phone
    0748333111
  • AnimeJapan 2019

    AnimeJapan 2019

    AnimeJapan 2019

    If you’re a fan of anime, then you won’t want to miss one of the world’s biggest and most exciting anime conventions. AnimeJapan will be taking place from 23 - 24 March in 2019 and centered around the theme of Rock.

    It’s being held at the Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center), with anime-themed exhibitions and a range of manga and anime goods for sale, as well as stage performances from some of the industry’s biggest names. It’s a fantastic opportunity to dress up in cosplay and meet like-minded anime fans, with a Cosplayer’s World where you can have your photo taken against various manga and anime backdrops.

    When: 23 - 24 March 2019
    http://www.anime-japan.jp/

    Tokyo Big Sight (Tokyo International Exhibition Center)
    Address
    Tokyo Koutou-ku Ariake 3-11-1
    Phone
    0355301111

    Update date:2019/03/26

  • Cherry blossoms

    Cherry blossoms

    Cherry blossoms

    While you can view cherry blossoms at numerous locations across Japan, one that you must see is the famous Nakameguro Sakuro in Tokyo. The Meguro River becomes a cherry blossom wonderland during spring when trees draped in pink blossoms hang over the canal. Shops and stalls created especially for the occasion line the waterway selling everything from spring-themed foods to pink champagne.

    Cherry blossoms

    Cherry blossoms

    Nakameguro is the best place in Tokyo to view the cherry blossoms, which tend to flower around late March to early April. Aside from picnicking beneath the trees with the locals and strolling along the river walk, you shouldn’t miss a visit at night when the cherry blossoms are beautifully illuminated.

    When: late March/early April (depending on the cherry blossoms)
    Cherry Blossom Season Japan

    Naka-meguro
    Address
    Tokyo Meguro-ku Kamimeguro 1-chome
    Phone
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