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Japan is situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometers, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands.

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Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri

A performance of 10,000 dancers holding hanagasa (flower hats) adorned with safflowers.

Dates: August 5th-7th
Place: From Tokamachi Corner to the front of Bunshokan Hall.
City: Yamagata City, Yamagata Prefecture

Although it was first held as a festival in 1964 so is relatively new, the Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri attracts more than 1 million spectators over three days and is now considered one of the major festivals of Tohoku (Fukushima, Miyagi, Iwate, Aomori, Yamagata and Akita prefectures). It is commonly included among the four greatest festivals of Tohoku, together with the Sendai Tanabata Matsuri (Sendai City), Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (Aomori City) and Akita Kanto Matsuri (Akita City).

A hanagasa is a hat decorated with artificial flowers. At the Yamagata Hanagasa Matsuri, dancers wearing the same costume per group and holding hanagasa hats adorned with Yamagata Prefecture's unique safflowers parade through the main street of Yamagata City. About 100 groups of a total of 10,000 dancers participate in this dance. The parade is led by gorgeously decorated festival floats. The unique shouts 'Yassho! Makkasho!' and the jovial beat of the hanagasa-daiko drums enhance the merry mood of the festival.

The dancing form has gradually changed over the years. Formerly, beautiful group performances with perfectly synchronized movements were sought after. Today however, dance performances come in a wide variety, such as the spectacular twirling of the hanagasa hats and other unique creative performances, which are very popular.


About 10 minutes' walk from JR Yamagata Station.


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Festivals & Events

Traditional Annual Events

Traditional Annual Events