Region
Tohoku
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Akita
Population
1,189,215

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.
The Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival is a classic winter event that sees the city filled with hundreds of hollowed-out snow domes known as kamakura. These range in size from tiny ones just large enough to hold a candle, to full-size igloos that can comfortably host small groups of people.

Photo by: Akita Prefecture Snow domes!

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.

Yokote city turns into an romantic little spot come winter. Akita, winter

Yokote city turns into a romantic little spot come winter.

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?

Godzilla Rock Oga, Akita Japan
During the day there are other festivities including the chance for you to build your own kamakura in Komyoji Park. There are also food stalls, a snow slide, and snow sculptures to admire. Don’t miss the 300-year-old bonden ceremony at Asahiokayama Shrine on Feb. 17 when gigantic five-meter-tall wooden poles are carried through the town to be offered to the gods.

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.

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Trivia

Godzilla Rock Oga, Akita Japan

Woah is that Godzilla?

It is! Akita Prefecture, where the Yokote Kamakura Festival takes place, is packed with events no matter the season. It's also home to an awesome Godzilla rock.

More

Things To Know

Details

The festival is held annually on Feb. 15 and 16. Admission is free. The main location is the Yokote Central City Hall Festival Plaza. The average temperature is around -3 degrees C, so dress accordingly! Warm boots and socks are recommended.

Kamakurakan Hall

Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Closed Dec. 29 to Jan. 3); Admission is ¥100.

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒013-0023 Akita-ken, Yokote-shi, Chūōmachi, 8−12 ふれあいセンターかまくら館

By train

The closest station to the festival venue is Yokote Station.

From Tokyo Station, take Akita Shinkansen (bullet train) to Omagari Station where you’ll transfer to the Ou Line. From there it’s only three stops to Yokote Station. The festival venue is approximately a 10-minute walk from there. The whole journey takes just over three and a half hours.

By bus

During the festival evenings, a free shuttle bus runs in a loop between several of the festival locations, including Kamakurakan Hall and Yokote Castle.

Where To Stay

Yokote Plaza Hotel
  • Ekimaecho 7-1 Yokote-Shi, Akita 013-0036
  • 7.8/10
  • 0.6 km
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Yokote Central Hotel
  • Heiwacho 9-10 Yokote-Shi, Akita 013-0035
  • 7.4/10
  • 0.9 km
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Quad Inn Yokote
  • Yasuda Sekibata 52-1 Yokote-Shi, Akita 013-0043
  • 8.3/10
  • 1.1 km
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Hotel Tetora Resort Yokote Onsen
  • Mutsunari Shirotsuke 1-20 Yokote-Shi, Akita 013-0008
  • 7.2/10
  • 1.7 km
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