During Hachinohe’s most famous winter festival Enburi, groups of traditional folk dancers perform dances as supplications to usher in the coming spring. The festival takes place in different areas scattered throughout the town at different times. This guide will show you how to get the most out of the festival, so make sure you don’t miss a second of this beautiful and mesmerizing traditional festival. Join the people of Hachinohe as they dance, sing, and celebrate the end of the bone-chilling winter days of northern Japan.
- Recommended Tour Date
- Feb 17
- Time Req.
- One Whole Day（or as much or little as you like）
Estimated Time Required (ETR): 1 Hr
Begin your Enburi Festival adventure by attending the Fudatori. This well-guarded secret part of the Enburi festival is only enjoyed by people in the know. Fudatori marks the official beginning of the Enburi, during which representatives from each of the Enburi troupes journey to the Choja Shinra Shrine to dance as a form of offering. This happens deep in the night, taking place at exactly midnight on Feb 17, lending a mysterious and exciting atmosphere to the start of the festival.
【When】 0:00 (Midnight), Feb 17
【Where】The Choja Shinra Shrine
After watching the Fudatori, return to your hotel and get some well-earned rest!
ETR: 1～2 hrs
After resting in your hotel and catching a quick nap, make your way back to the Choja Shinra Shrine to see the Hono-Zuri. In the early morning hours, all 30 Enburi troupes gather at the shrine and make an offering of dance to the gods. Watching the Enburi dancers perform their powerful and graceful dances in the clear winter morning air of northern Japan is truly a moving sight.
【When】7:00~, Feb 17
【Where】The Choja Shinra Shrine
Return to your hotel for a quick rest or head to a local cafe for a warm drink.
The Choja Matsuringu Hiroba (Choja Festival Square)
ETR: 1～2 hrs
After the Enburi troupes finish making their offerings at the shrines, gather at the nearby Choja Festival Square. There, they get ready for the day’s big event: the Issei-Zuri, during which all of the troupes dance down the main street of downtown Hachinohe City. While waiting together in the Festival Square, different groups can be seen practising and dancing different parts that make up the Enburi ensemble. Visiting the square during this time allows you an unprecedented close-up and intimate viewpoint of each group before they take the main stage.
【When】8:00～10:00, Feb 17
【Where】The Choja Matsuringu Hiroba (Choja Festival Square)
As the Enburi troupes begin to mobilize and start their procession down the main street, get ready and follow after them!
The Enburi Procession
ETR: 40 min
At 10 o’clock, the Enburi groups begin to move towards the main street of downtown Hachinohe City by dancing their way to their designated spots. During this segment of the festival, all 30 groups are on the move and dancing passionately. It is one of the best and most exciting scenes of the whole festival and should not be missed!
【When】10:00~10:40, Feb 17
【Where】The area that connects the Choja Matsuringu Hiroba to the main street of downtown Hachinohe City
After following the procession, arrive in downtown to watch the start of the next part of the festival:
ETR: 40 min
On the main street of Hachinohe, all 30 Enburi troupes gather and perform simultaneously during the Issei-Zuri. Each group is different in which dances they dance and the way they dance them, creating an unique and entrancing pageant of color and motion that moves throughout downtown during this highlight of the festival.
【When】10:40～11:20, Feb 17
【Where】Main Street (Chushingai) of downtown Hachinohe
After you finish watching the Issei-Zuri in downtown, head towards the City Hall of Hachinohe. There, you can take a quick break and enjoy lunch from one of the many food vendor stalls in front of the city hall while you wait for the next segment to start!
ETR: 30 min
Long ago, dancers performed Enburi in front of the Lord of the Hachinohe Domain, and although years have passed and times have changed, Enburi is still performed for the mayor of Hachinohe every year during Go-zen Enburi. This special honor is given to one Enburi troupe each year who performs their troupe’s traditional set of dances on a stage in front of the city hall. Although Go-Zen is performed for the mayor of the city, anyone is allowed to watch and enjoy the performance as well.
【When】12:15～, Feb 17
【Where】The Area in Front of Hachinohe City Hall
After watching the Go-Zen Enburi, head to downtown and check out the Hachinohe Portal Museum ‘hacchi’ to learn all about the culture of Hachinohe or explore any of the interesting spots that can be found around the city.
ETR: 1 hr
As dusk sets, head to the Kōjōkaku mansion which sits between downtown Hachinohe and the Nagane Park. On every night of the festival, Enburi dance troupes perform in the snow-covered garden of the Kōjōkaku mansion by bonfire-light. The Kōjōkaku was built by a wealthy Hachinohe merchant during the early 1900s and its classic Japanese architecture lends a poetic atmosphere for all to watch the festival. While viewing the performances of the Enburi dancers up close, guests are also treated to bowls of Hachinohe’s famous local specialty senbei-jiru, a type of chicken and wheat cracker soup, and cups of steaming amazake, a traditional rice beverage. This popular place to view Enburi requires a reservation and tickets ahead of time.
【When】16:00・18:00・20:00 (3 times per night), Feb 17～20
When the O-Niwa Enburi performance is over, head back downtown for a culinary experience.
ETR: 1～2 hrs
No trip to Hachinohe would be complete without trying some of the amazing local seafood, but as luck would have it, the Enburi festival coincides with another yearly festival: the Hachinohe Bouillabaisse Festival. This festival started after the 2011 Earthquake & Tsunami as a way to revitalize the local fishing industry. From February to March, chefs throughout the area create their unique take on the classic french dish of bouillabaisse using at least four different types of local seafood and as many local vegetables and other ingredients as possible. Fresh, creative, inspiring, and most importantly delicious, the Hachinohe Bouillabaisse Festival is an absolute must.
After dinner, head back toward the Hachinohe City Hall for:
ETR: 1 hr
If you still have the strength and energy to keep going after a long day, then there is nothing left to do but watch the Kagari-Bi Enburi. On every night of the festival, small bonfires are lit to light a stage placed before the city hall building so that different Enburi troupes can continue dancing deep into the night. Food and drink stalls set up in the area around the stage provide hot beverages and snacks to enjoy while you watch the passionate Enburi dancers dance beneath the clear, bright stars of the cold winter night.
【When】1800・19:00・20:00 (3 times per night), Feb 17～20
※On Feb 18 from 19:30, 5 Enburi troupes will perform together
【Where】The Area in front of Hachinohe City Hall
◎ Most of the activities of the Hachinohe Enburi Festival take place in and around downtown Hachinohe, so it is recommended to stay in the hotels or inns in downtown or those near Hon-Hachinohe Station. These accommodations also afford guests easy access to other places like Hachinohe’s famous drinking alleyway Miroku Yokocho, so you can enjoy your stay in Hachinohe to the utmost.
◎ The weather in Hachinohe during February is very, very cold. There are some days when the temperature does not rise above the negatives (in Celsius). Hachinohe gets relatively less snow than the rest of Aomori Prefecture but there is still plenty of ice, particularly on the roads and sidewalks. It is recommended to wear appropriate footwear and warm clothing.
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