Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival
Snow huts and water gods.
- Feb. 15 to Feb. 16, 2020
- Night time Illumination: 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Kamakura are a traditional feature in parts of northern Japan and this festival in Yokote City, Akita Prefecture, has a history dating back around 450 years. The snow domes were originally built to deify a Shinto water god, and pray for abundant water, bountiful harvests and the safety of the community. Inside the kamakura, you’ll find an altar where you can make an offering to the deity.
See the kamakura lit up at night
When dusk falls, local children invite visitors into the over 100 large kamakura at different sites all around the city. The main locations to visit include Yokote Central City Hall Festival Plaza, Minami Elementary School, and Yokote Castle. The latter extends its opening hours until 10 p.m. so that visitors can also enjoy a stunning night view of the city from the observation deck.
If you accept the invitation inside you will be able to enjoy freshly grilled mochi (sticky rice cakes) and amazake (a sweet, low alcohol drink made from fermented rice). It’s perfect for banishing the winter chill!
Both large and small snow domes are constructed along the bank of the Yokote River. These are illuminated from within by candles after dark, creating a second river of flickering light next to the water.
Woah is that Godzilla?
In Yokote’s Kamakurakan Hall, a couple of kamakura are preserved year-round in a special low-temperature room. Even if you can’t visit Yokote during the two days of the festival, it’s still possible to see one of these traditional snow domes for yourself.
Want more winter festivals? Check out our list of the best Snow and Ice Festivals in Japan.