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Photo By: Guilhem Vellut

5 Picture-Perfect Carp Streamer Festivals In Japan

Just floating in the wind.

Visit Japan between late March and early May, and you will come across large, colorful carp streamers floating in the wind. Known as koi nobori, these streamers are part of the celebrations for Children’s Day (May 5), a day once known as Boys’ Day with the hope that young boys would grow up to be healthy and strong warriors.

Carp streamers are often strung across a river to give the illusion of carp swimming upstream where they will become a mighty dragon. Grab your camera, because you certainly don’t want to miss these five vibrant displays of Japanese culture.

Tatebayashi, Gunma Prefecture

Five different locations in Tatebayashi collectively make up the city’s 5,000 carp streamer festival, but the heart of the festivities lies on the banks of the Tsuru Udagawa River (Map). The festival has become Tatebayashi’s premier springtime social event and occurs between late March and early May. The illuminated night view of the carp streamers floating majestically along the Milky Way is not to be missed.

  • Late March to May (2020: now through May 19)
  • Tobu Tatebayashi station

Kokubu River, Chiba Prefecture

Flying across the river.

Wires strung across the Kokubu River (Map) elegantly carry the weight of over 500 carp streamers floating upstream in the wind. This event coincides with Golden Week, a string of consecutive Japanese holidays that occur between late April to the first week of March.

Although the carp streamers will be out swimming the air from late April to the first week of May, the main festival event, full of games for kids and food stalls, will be held on May 4th, the day before the offical Children’s Day.

  • This festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • From April 29 to May 5
  • JR Ichikawa Station

Tsuetate Onsen, Kumamoto Prefecture

Straddling the border of Oita Prefecture is Tsuetate Onsen (Map), an onsen town with a 1,800-year history tucked away in the mountains of Kumamoto. The Tsuetate Hot Spring Carp Festival features more than 3,500 carp streamers collected from all parts of Kyushu.

After a soak in one of the area’s relaxing outdoor baths, don a yukata (a thin, cotton kimono) and stroll down Sedoya, the well-preserved back streets of Tsuetate. Time your shot of the carp streamers over the river below to capture the bellows of steam rising among them.

  • This festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • From April 1 to May 6
  • JR Hita station

Higashi Matsuhima, Miyagi Prefecture

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You’ll notice that the carp streamers of Higashi Matsushima (Map) are all blue in color they’re a tribute to Kento Ito’s five-year-old brother who died in the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. Ito founded the Blue Carp Streamer Project as a memorial for not only his brother, but all the children who died during the disaster. The distinct blue streamers are donated from people all across Japan.

  • This festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Mid-March to the first week of May
  • JR Higashi Yamoto station

Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture

Photo by: lasta29 Another one across the river in Osaka!

For live musical entertainment and snacks on a stick, head to Osaka’s Koi Nobori Festa 1000 (Map). Around 1000 carp streamers swimming across the Akuta River will cheerfully greet you as you walk or bike the one kilometer path from JR Takatsuki station to Akuta River Sakura Park.

Snack on yaki dango (skewered and grilled rice cakes) and choco banana (a skewered and peeled banana covered in chocolate and sprinkles) as you take in the unique colors and patterns of these carp streamers.

  • This festival has been canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Late April to the first week of May
  • JR Takatsuki station

If you head out to any of these locations, don’t forget to tag us on social media with #GaijinPotTravel.