Nagasaki Kunchi FestivalComing to Japan this Autumn? You probably have to stop by Nagasaki to attend its annual autumn celebration. The so-called Nagasaki Kunchi Festival is a designated National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. Experience the festivity because it’s surely will be exciting!
Read through to find out a complete guide which introduces the festival, what to expect, when, and where to stay during the event.
Nagasaki Kunchi Festival 2019: Everything You Need to Know
If you have a plan to visit Japan this year, one thing you shouldn’t miss is to come to this vibrant celebration of Nagasaki’s multicultural history is the event in the area’s autumn calendar. Before going, here’s everything you should know about the fest!
The Festival, When and Where
This colorful festival of the Suwa Shrine is annually held in Nagasaki, Kyushu, from 7th – 9th October 2019. It’s designated a National Important Intangible Folk Cultural Asset. Still wondering why the name is Kunchi Festival?
Alright, so “Kunchi” is a word from the northern Kyushu dialect which means autumn festival. This festival is happening in Nagasaki and is one of the most known autumn festivals in Japan along with Hakata O-Kunchi in Fukuoka and Karatsu Kunchi in Saga.
This festival has been celebrated since 400 years ago! Originally, Nagasaki Kunchi Festival was an event when two female performers performed a dedication of a yokyoku called “Komee” before Suwa Shrine.
It’s incorporate with several different aspects like Chinese and Dutch cultures, which played quite a big role in the city’s history. Some say that Kunchi also means “ku-nichi” which means the 9th day of the 9th month of the lunar calendar.
What to Expect at the Festival
Nagasaki Kunchi Festival highlights are the dance and show performances by groups who represent Nagasaki’s various city districts. Each district participates only once every seven years to keep the freshness to the visitors.
Those groups will present traditional Japanese dances, Chinese influenced dragon dances, and also performances involving large floats (most of them are shaped like ships).
The main festival venue is at Suwa Shrine, just within proximity from the Suwa Jinja-mae streetcar stop. However, you can still enjoy the festival from the Otabijo stage in central Nagasaki, Yasaka Shrine, and the Kokaido-mae Plaza. Those venues completed with paid seating or standing areas.
Unfortunately, if you wanna come, it’s kinda hard to purchase tickets for paid seating because they sell out pretty quickly and require Japanese language skills to purchase through sales channels.
The best option is to attend without a ticket, meaning it’s free to be around the standing area. Still want to get a seat? Then purchase on-site through ticketing websites such as ticket pia (on Japanese) for other venues except for Kokaido-mae Plaza.
Best Time to Come
For international viewers, the best time to come is a bit early to get a good spot for enjoying the dances, which usually begins around 7 am. The free viewing spots are including Chuo Park and the plaza at Nagasaki Station.
Come in the morning or evening of 7th October and in the mornings of 8th and 9th October to feel the most of it! Although the areas tend to get very crowded, like we said, come early to capture the best spots and you won’t regret it.
Feel the groove on the carnival atmosphere by witnessing odoricho parades throughout Nagasaki or travel between the venues! Take a tram ride which allows you to travel around Nagasaki easily and conveniently for going to each venue.
A flat rate is 120 yen for adults and 60 yen for children. You can also purchase a one-day train pass for 500 yen (adults) and 250 yen (children). Do also remember that drones and umbrellas are not allowed around the fest.
Schedule of Nagasaki Kunchi 2019
Still unsure when is the best date to come? Here here, find the schedule as follows to choose the day that suits you well.
The opening performance is at Suwa Shrine and starts at 7 am. The festival then will move from Kokaido-mae Plaza to the Otabijo to perform once more. Around 4 pm, there will be Kunchi no Yube, a dedicated dance at Suwa Shrine, before going back to Kokaido-mae Plaza again.
The festival will be taking place at Yasaka Shrine as early as 7 am, then after that move to Kokaido-mae Plaza. At the end of the dance, performances will be held again in front of companies and homes in the city.
On the last day, the performance will be at the Otabijo at 7 am and followed by the performances at the Suwa Shrine to close the whole Nagasaki Kunchi Festival 2019.
How to Get There
Fly to Nagasaki to experience the cultural festival! After you reach the city, all you need to do is to go to the four venues where the festival is held.
- Suwa Shrine: The most popular viewing spot during the festival.
To reach this spot, you can take the tram bound for Hotarujaya from Nagasaki Station, then take the exit at the bus stop in front of Suwa Shrine.
- Otabijo: Located in the city center and will be filled with street stalls during the festival.
This venue has great access by bus and train. You can take the tram bound for Akasako or Shokakuji and alight at the Ohato stop.
- Yasaka Shrine: Has the closest stage to the audience, making it great to see the performances.
You can go to Yasaka Shrine by taking the tram ride bound for Sofukuji Temple and exit at Sofukuji Temple.
- Nagasaki Kokaido-mae Plaza: This spacious venue allows all visitors to relax while watching the performances.
The access is by taking the tram bound for Hotarujaya then exit at Kokaido-mae.
What to Wear
Since it’s early autumn and the average temperature in Nagasaki is around 19℃, we’d suggest you wear thin shirts or t-shirts, shorts, and other light clothing. However, you can also bring your jacket, sweater, or shawl since the mornings and evenings may be a bit chilly.
Don’t also forget to pack sunglasses and sunscreen on your holiday to Japan. The early autumn won’t be really cold because the heat waves in August and September are still there, thus, it’d be better for you to pack everything light.
Where to Stay
Find the hotel of your choice in Nagasaki. There are plenty of hotels from budget to luxurious accommodation in Nagasaki which you can book easily. Our tip is to choose accommodation situated close to the venue area or in the city center so you can explore the city conveniently.
Exploring Japan, Beyond the Festival
Japan is a fascinating destination that offers you cultural vibes which mixed with modern life. So, why don’t you explore other amazing cities during your trip to Japan after going to the festival?
You surely don’t want to miss Tokyo, right? Keen to know the best way to discover this coolest city? Here are 8 awesome things to do in Tokyo to make your vacay to this rising sun country even merrier!