Autumn Festival (aki matsuri)

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Autumn Festival (aki matsuri)

***** Location: Japan
***** Season: All Autumn
***** Category: Observance


aki matsuri 秋祭 (あきまつり) autumn festival
sato matsuri 里祭(さとまつり)village festival
..... mura matsuri 村祭(むらまつり)
zaimatsuri 在祭(ざいまつり)shrine festival

uramatsuri 浦祭(うらまつり)bay festival

(to pray for the safety of fishing boats)

Many take place in the ninth lunar month (now october).

Aki Matsuri, Autumn Festivals  秋祭り to thank the gods for a good harvest and pray for the wellbeing of each family in the community. They are celebrated all over Japan after the rice harvest. Preparations take weeks and are a means to get the young men and women of the village together to practise the dances and tunes.

Today, on the second weekend of October, is the Autumn Festival at our local shrine, I just come back from the simple but really endearing festivities.
The local gods are transferred to small portable shrines (mikoshi), put in front of the shrine and groups of 3 men perform a lions dance in front of them. The kindergarden children this year also wearing colorful costumes and danced with their paper lion mask.

This is our lion

Look at more details here
Autumn Festival in Sakai 2005

Then all take the protable shrines about 500 meters to a clearance in the forest, where more ricewine for the elders and more dance for the gods is performed.
With loud shouting they walk back to the shrine, another final dance and that was it.

And on the following links, you find some very similar festival, since after all, most mountain communities in Okayama are the same.

Here are some lovely pictures of such a small village autumn festival.

Here is some kind of Lion Dance in Takebe, the village next to mine.

. . . CLICK here for Photos !

Gabi Greve


Here is a great link with haiku and pictures about many Autumn festivals in Japan.

Copyright (C) 2000-2004 Yoshio Wada.



Some famous Aki Matsuri

Sep.7-9 Kakudate Festival: Kakudate Town, Akita
The second weekend of September: Hanamaki Festival: Iwate
Mid. September Towada Aki Matsuri: Towada-city, Aomori
Mid. September Kishiwada Danjiri Festival: Kishiwada-city, Osaka
Sep. 14-16 Morioka Fall Festival: Morioka-city Iwate
Sep. 14-16 Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Festival: Kamakura-city, Kanagawa
Sep. 22-24 Aizu Fall Festival: Aizuwakamatsu-city, Fukushima
Sep. 23-24 Ohara Hadaka Matsuri (naked men festival): Isumi-city, Chiba

Oct. 4-6 Nihonmatsu Chochin (lantern) Festival: Nihonmatsu-city Fukushima

. 日本三大くんち The three famous KUNCHI of Japan  
(kunchi, o-kunchi, refers to autumn festivals in Kyushu)
長崎くんち(長崎県長崎市) Nagasaki
唐津くんち(佐賀県唐津市) Karatsu
博多おくんち(福岡県福岡市) Hakata

Oct. 7-9 Nagasaki Kunchi: Nagasaki-city, Nagasaki 長崎 くんち祭り
At the shrine Suwa Jinja.
Hakata Kunchi in Fukuoka city, October 23 & 24
Karatsu Kunchi in Karatsu city, Nobember 2 to 4
Wild dances, the mikoshi are carried from the shrine to a stop spot 御旅所 for more dances.

. . . . .

Oct. 9-10 Takayama Fall Festival: Takayama-city, Gifu
Oct. 11-12, 2008 Nagoya Festival: Nagoya-city, Aichi

. Oct. 14-15, Nada Kenka Matsuri 灘けんか祭  

Oct. 16-17 Nikko Toshogu Fall Festival: Nikko-city Tochigi

Mid. Oct. - early Nov.Hirosaki Castle Fall Foliage Festival: Hirosaki-city, Aomori
Oct. 22 Jidai Matsuri Heian Jingu Shrine: Kyoto
Oct. 30 - Nov.3, 2008 Saga Baloon Festival: Saga-city, Saga
Oct.24 - Nov.3, 2008 Shuri Castle Festival: Naha-city Okinawa

Nov. 1 - 24 Yahiko Kiku Festival (Chrysanthemum festival): Yahiko-mura, Niigata
Nov. 2-4 Karatsu Kunchi: Karatsu-city, Saga
Nov. 3 Hakone Daimyo Parade: Hakone Town, Kanagawa

Worldwide use

Things found on the way

Village Children
Just for the fun of it, children harvesting rice by hand. The same sceene is also here in my village.

This is a site with many Japanese topics, made by children, but in English, so you might enjoy to see more.


yamasato ni kodomo no egao aki matsuri

.. .. .. in the mountain village
.. .. .. all children laughing -
.. .. .. autumn festival

Gabi Greve, Okayama Japan


町沸かす 子供みこしや 秋祭り  
machi wakasu kodomo-mikoshi ya aki matsuri

the whole village in uproar -
the children's portable shrine !
autumn festival
(Tr. Gabi Greve)

Mochizuki san 望月琉巳子

There are more Japanese haiku on this link.


autumn festival -
a streak of sunshine
on the priest

Gabi Greve, Japan, 2007

Related words

***** Oktoberfest (Germany)

***** Harvest Thanksgiving (Europe) Harvest Festival, Erntedankfest

Saijiki of Japanese Ceremonies and Festivals



Gabi Greve said...


Autumn Festival, by Amy Chavez, October 2006 on Shiraishi Island, Japan


Anonymous said...

that was wonderful tradition by japan. I love the costumes. thanks for the article

Gabi Greve - Darumapedia said...

yabusame no baba ga totonoi akimatsuri

for yabusame
the race ground is prepared -
autumn festival
Tr. Gabi Greve

Kurihara Minoru 栗原満

about yabusame, archery on horseback

Gabi Greve said...

Kobayashi Issa

o-matsuri no akai dedachi no tombo kana

a dragonfly
dressed in a red
festival robe

This hokku is from late in the eighth month (September) in 1817, when Issa was living in his hometown. During this month Issa apparently went to a festival, probably at a Shinto shrine, that consisted mainly of dances and prayers for a large rice crop, since at this time of year the rice harvest is just beginning or about to begin. A red dragonfly (or a group of them) is visiting the festival, and to Issa it looks as if it were also a member of the group of festival performers -- priests, priestesses, musicians, dancers, and others -- many of whom are wearing red robes, or possibly a mixture of red and white robes. The comparison isn't necessarily stretched or hyperbolic, since the ancient name for Honshu, the main Japanese island, was Dragonfly Island (Akizushima, later, in Issa's time, Akitsushima). In Japanese shamanism, dragonflies were believed to be spirits that lived in and protected the wet rice fields and thus ensured good crops, and since there were many fertile rice fields in Yamato, the land was named after them. The fall festival in this hokku almost certainly has prayers for a good harvest as one of its main activities, so Issa may take the dragonfly to be appearing at the festival in order to make a contribution in its own unique way. The dragonfly, after all, is instinctively doing its part by helping to protect the maturing rice crop against various insects that would harm it, and its flight provides additional beauty and drama.

White and red are the two main colors worn by participants and used for decoration at festivals and at many kinds of public and private celebrations even today in Japan. Many Shinto shrines likewise have large red gates (torii) and halls with much red in them. Red was believed to be a purifying color that was even stronger than white, so it was used at purifications as well as at celebrations, while white and black were used at funerals. Perhaps because it is the color of blood, red was said to represent life and energy, and it was believed to be powerful enough to drive away demons and protect against misfortune. Following a cosmology imported from ancient China, in Issa's time red also referred to the south and to the sun and warmth.

Chris Drake

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