Japan is famous for its colourful and enriching events and festivals. Wherever you may be visiting in Japan with its array of both local (matsuri) and national festivals, you are sure to be close to a celebration or marked occasion of some sort.
Noboribetsu Jigoku Festival
This devilishly fun festival sees the gates of hell opened. Ogres and demons invade, bringing the beat of taiko drumming and the blaze of handheld fireworks to the streets of Noboribetsu.The town of Noboribetsu is famous for its several types of hot spring waters, reputedly Japan’s best. The source of many of them is “Hell Valley” (Jigokudani), an other-worldly, barren rocky volcanic valley north of the town that is said to be inhabited by demons and is the gateway to hell.
In this lively event, once a year every summer the door to “hell” is opened and Enma or Yama (the King of Hell), a huge red and blue ogre, and “yukijin”, masked demons who are the protective guardians of the hot springs, emerge to prowl the streets of Noboribetsu for one weekend.
Six-metre tall ogre-shaped floats and elaborate one-ton mikoshi (portable shrines) are paraded around the town as masked ogres dance in groups in honour of the demon king’s visit and local folk entertainments are performed for the crowds. A colourful fireworks show on the final night bids the demon king farewell until the following year.
The festival is held on the last weekend in August each year. If you can’t make it, you can still enjoy a demonic encounter at the Demon’s Fireworks ceremony, which is held every Thursday and Friday from 20:30 at Jigokudani Observatory. Masked demons carry handheld fountain fireworks - 10-metre high erupting columns of fire reminiscent of Hell Valley’s erupting steam vents and geysers - along the town’s demon footpath.
Last weekend of AugustDates and functions are subject to change without notice. Be sure to check the latest information in advance.