Discover the rich cultural heritage of Kamakura at the Kamakura Festival, a captivating Tokyo events in April where ancient traditions and vibrant Tokyo Events converge in a splendid celebration.
Step Back in Time
The Kamakura Festival, also known as Kamakura Matsuri, spans for a week in mid-April. Celebrating the Samurai culture offers a vibrant opportunity to become part of Japan’s rich history. Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, located just a 10-minute walk from Kamakura Station, hosts the event, which takes place through various locations around the town.
The festival commenced in 1959; every year invites over 800,000 tourists to witness traditional performances representing Lady Shizuka’s dance and Horseback Archery -Yabusame.
The Tale of Lady Shizuka
On the first day of the Kamakura Festival, you can experience the Shizuka no Mai dance performance, which is based on the melancholic yet captivating story of Lady Shizuka. The tale comes from ancient Japanese literature called ‘Tale of Heike.
Lady Shizuka’s tragic love life unfolds on stage through this beautiful dance. She was hopelessly in love with warlord Minamoto no Yoshitsune; however, she was seized by rival Warlord Yoritomo, who eventually led her toward an ambiguous death—accounts differ between killing and suicide.
The Tradition of Yabusame Tournament
The grand finale of the festival is another engaging spectacle – Yabusame Tournament. This event exhibits Samurai horseback archery on a full-speed galloping horse. Each rider is tasked to shoot an arrow into a target set up at different locations along a stretch.
This thrilling display happens on the third Sunday at Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, right on the dirt road crossing below it. The first arrows are let loose at 2 pm. This skill show captures Samurai’s speed and precision while depicting a prominent part of their warrior history.
More to Experience during Kamakura Festival
Apart from its main showcase days—the second and third Sunday—the rest week-long festival includes parades, festive activities all around the city, and open-air tea ceremonies sponsored by Kamakura Tourist Association (Phone:0467-23-3050). If your aesthetic senses love nature, take the journey via the Dankazura pedestrian path that goes through the center of Wakamiya Oji Street to immerse yourself among hundreds of Cherry Blossom trees that will be in full bloom during springtime.
Consider trying Komachi-dori as well—the shopping street—for hunting some unique Japanese memorabilia back home. Include a Tenugui—a cotton printed cloth—in your must-buy list; a perfect souvenir showcasing Dankazura Lanterns and Cherry Blossoms design!
Upon reaching Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine early, you can get a closer spot beside the dirt road leading to where Yabusame happens. But be sure to hold onto it because with hundreds to thousands of crowds lining up, any open space fills quickly.
Suppose your schedule doesn’t align with Yabusame, or you can’t get closer to this show, worry not! The event features more than just one demonstration. You can witness ceremonial presentations or resplendent march of horse-riding archers lined along flag bearers and more—all adorned in elaborate traditional Samurai costumes—toward the archery track, each demonstrating unique poses with their bows and arrows.
Next Year’s Fervor
Considering its sizeable participation, next year’s dates will be announced when confirmed details arrive for better planning and spot securing, especially if you desire a close-up view of the Yabusame Horseback Archery contest.
Experience the cultural richness of the Kamakura Festival, where ancient traditions blend harmoniously with the vibrant spirit of Midtown Blossom, creating a captivating celebration in April’s Tokyo Events.