Takasago Lantern Festival
Japan in color: A night of 10,000 stars.
Every September, a unique natural phenomenon occurs: 10,000 stars fall from the sky and descend upon the little city of Takasago to the sound of jazz music. This event is known as Takasago Mantousai, or the Takasago Lantern Festival, and is a sight to behold.
Takasago is the smallest city in the Hyogo Prefecture and a local spot worth discovering. It’s located next to Himeji City and has direct train access to Kobe and Osaka. In 2006, the prefecture designated the old fishing port of Takasago as an area of cultural significance due to a large number of historical buildings and structures remaining there. Takasago Lantern Festival is an annual celebration of this recognition.
The main event
At the two-day festival, you can experience a magical night surrounded by flickering candle lights and Japanese tradition.
Compared to the typical Japanese fall festival, this one has a lot of special features. The lanterns gleam over important landmarks such as the Takasago Shrine, Horikawa and Takasago Park. Inside the most historically important houses in this area, performances are held, ranging from traditional biwa (Japanese short-necked lute) music to jazz. On the lit-up streets, you can also find food stalls with local cuisine and festival games to partake in with the locals.
At different locations, there are beautiful illumination displays. Such as a port filled with illuminated boats and a shrine covered carved bamboo lanterns and candles.
- Jazz – Take the Sanyo line train from Himeji to Takasago station to experience the Sanyo Jazz Train, where live jazz music is played inside the train in recognition of this event. Apply for an application in advance.
- Bathhouses – Don’t miss seeing the local sento (communal bath house) while in the area for the fest. The water in this bathhouse is heated by wood fire and the urban legend among locals is that it was an inspiration for the bathhouse in the animated movie Spirited Away. One locale to try is “梅ケ枝湯.” (Map)
The fest is an opportunity to see a local festival and admire traditional Japanese architecture, without having to fight tourist hordes. If you missed out on this one, various shrines in Takasago also play host to some other great fall festivals held in October.