March 2019: Top Cheapo Events Around Japan

Lily Crossley-Baxter

March is officially spring, and the quietest corners of Japan are waking from the winter hibernation for plum blossom festivals, fiery celebrations and sumo wrestling tournaments! Wherever you are in the country, there will be something exciting to see and make your March memorable!

Photo by Musume Miyuki used under CC

Omizutori Festival  |  Nara

An annual event, the Omizutori Festival is one of the oldest Buddhist recurrent events and dates back 1,250 years. Large numbers of torches are lit and hung from the balcony of the temple and people gather below them to be cleansed of sins and to look forward to a fresh start when the cherry blossom emerges. If you are showered with the embers from the hanging torches, it is considered good luck and you will be protected from evil.

 Omizutori Fire Festival

Dates:1st Mar–14th Mar, 2020

Osaka Asian Film Festival   | Osaka

Osaka Asian Film Festival 2019
Photo by Osaka Asian Film Festival

The rallying cry of this annual film festival is “From Osaka to All of Asia!” and involves screenings of films from 19 countries and regions including Macao, Taiwan, Indonesia, India, Greece, the USA and of course, Japan. They will be screening a total of 58 films including several international premieres.

 Osaka Asian Film Festival 2020

Mid Mar, 2020
Entry:¥1,300 – ¥1,500

Higashiyama Hanatouro | Kyoto

Higashiyama Hanatouro Temple
Photo by Chad Kainz used under CC

An evening illumination event showing you Kyoto in a new light, this is the perfect excuse for an after-dinner stroll. The full route is 5km but you can pick and choose your highlights (geddit?) – including Shorenin, Entokuin, Hokanji and Kiyomizudera. There will be a Geisha performance at Yasaka Shrine.

Experience the best of Kyoto in its most beautiful season. This guided tour will take you to famous cherry blossom spots like Ninna-ji Temple, the click here for details
 Suggested Activity 

 Higashiyama Hanatouro

Mid Mar, 2020

Grand Sumo Tournament  | Osaka

Photo by Julian used under CC

The Sumo roadshow docks in Osaka for its annual March tournament and offers the Kansai locals a chance to see the wrestlers in action. While the first few days, weekends and final two days are the most crowded, it is easiest to get unreserved tickets on the other days – tickets are ¥2,100 for adults at the ticket booth.

 March Grand Sumo Tournament

Late Mar, 2020

Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival  |  Shiga

Photo by Takahiro Asai used under CC

In preparation for this fiery festival, the 13 neighborhoods that once surrounded the castle of the famed  16th-century warlord Oda Nobunaga construct complex floats using straw, bamboo and paper to compete for the top prize. Once a winner has been crowned, they are all burned together and men dance beside the flames.

 Omihachiman Sagicho Fire Festival

Dates:Mid Mar, 2020

Kitano Odori | Kyoto

Kitano Odori
Photo by Onihide used under CC

A chance to see one of the traditional Geisha (known as Geiko in Kyoto) performances in Kyoto, the annual Kitano Odori features Geiko from the Kamishichen Area. Running since 1952, they have two performances a day and tickets cost under ¥0.

 Kitano Odori

Dates:Late Mar
Early Apr, 2020
Entry:¥4,300 – ¥4,800

Ongoing Events

Kepp an eye out for some plum blossom and lanterns depending on which end of Japan you find yourself in this month!

Plum Blossom
Photo by Daisuke K used under CC

Souriike Plum Blossom Festival  |  Aichi

One of the later destinations thanks to the cooler temperatures at this end of Japan, the pond known as Souriike is next to a park filled with over 5000 plum trees. There are 25 varieties and you’ll find blossoms a long walk or short bus ride from Teramoto Station.

 Souriike Plum Blossom Festival

Dates:Early Feb
Early Mar, 2020

Osaka Castle Illuminage

One of the non-free events, this one has a historical theme, with light displays taking you through the adventures of the Edo period and into the Meijo-era. Lights go on from 5.30pm until 9.30pm.

 Osaka Castle Illuminage

Dates:Early Dec
Early Mar, 2019
On the door: ¥1,200
On the door: ¥600

Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival | Tochigi

A small town transformed each winter, Yunishigawa sees hundreds of small snow houses appear in the snowy months. The town has sledding and onsen to enjoy during the day while the kamakura (snow houses) are illuminated at night.

 Yunishigawa Onsen Kamakura Festival

Dates:Late Jan
Early Mar, 2020
Entry:¥300 – ¥510

Sapporo White Illumination  | Hokkaido

There are quite a few different locations for the Sapporo illuminations, with three stretching out into the first few days of March. Minami Hikyoritsu, Sapporo City Kita Square and the South Exit of Sapporo Station. The first two involve trees while the last has some unusual illuminated structures.

 Sapporo White Illumination

Dates:Late Nov
Mid Mar, 2019

Light of Versailles  | Shizuoka

This illumination event involves plenty of lights, fountains and water displays with shows at 6:30pm, 7pm, 7:30pm, 8pm and 8:30pm as well as a 9pm show on weekends. The event is held at the location of the Gotemba Kogen Brewery if you fancy a drink to go with the sights.

 "Light of Versailles" Winter Illumination

Dates:Late Oct
Late Mar, 2019
On the door: ¥1,000
On the door: ¥200
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Filed under: Things to Do
Tags: Blossoms, Festivals, Fire, Illuminations, March, March Events, Spring, Spring Festivals, Sumo Grand Tournmanet
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