Your guide for a free autumn cultural music festival in Japan

7th Oct 2017

First things first. Make sure you have some luck on your side :) Just kidding. Japan's smaller regions welcome the autumn or the harvest season through music and other celebrations. While travelling to Japan in October this year, I by chance happen to witness this magnificent festival.

Some great things do come for free.

Kanuma is a station on the JR Nikko line. If you happen to buy the JR travel pass ( which most foreign traveller do) this is an absolutely free spectacle for you.

I was on a one day trip to Nikko, with plans to spend the night at Nikko, before I leave for Mount Fuji next.

But, Japan had greater plans for me. After I returned to my hostel at Nikko in the evening after a fulfilling day of sightseeing at Nikko, my hostelmates were preparing to leave for Karuma to witness the music festival. The lady at my hostel, urged us all four women to go see it.

And in the next twenty minutes, we were at JR Nikko station for a fun ride to Kanuma. A 30-40 minute ride from Nikko. Once you set foot at the station, there are volunteers guiding you to the crossroad where all the action is happening. This is another 20 minutes of pleasant walking through a quite countryside town.

The festival is all about, each smaller town or region pulling a wooden chariot, with thier best music talent on board. Its a healthy music competition, of 'crushing' each other with music. Notice, the intricate work on each of the chariots. Also, each chariot has a different animal or symbol carved out on the chariot. Given, we happened to just be there, with no guide or anyone to explain in english, I am afraid I will not be able to explain a lot of the culutural significance. However, amongst the things we noticed, was the equal participation of women. You can see them standing on the top of the chariot and I also spotted some female musicians inside the chariot.

But, if you wish to experience any such festival, I urge you to always check with your hostel staff when travelling to smaller towns in Japan, like to Nikko for instance. The hostel staff is generally aware of such local festivals happening nearby and is more than happy to help.

The festival started at about 7 pm and started moving towards another location post 8 pm, that is when we started are return journey back to Nikko, with musical memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Photo of Your guide for a free autumn cultural music festival in Japan by Amritha

Your guide for a free autumn music festival is the third part of my new travel series on Japan- documenting the food, people, nature, beauty and culture in the land of the rising sun.

Disclaimer: I often hear how people are inspired by various travel blogs and wish to pack their bags and go travel. If any of my blogs does the same to you, I request you to read up on what I think about travel and how to afford it responsibly, here is the link