A kamakura is a hollow carved out from a mound of snow. This festival, in Yokote City, Akita, usually features more than 100 large kamakura and numerous smaller ones. Sizes range from small candle-lit lantern type kamakura through to ones that are large enough for a small group of people to stand in. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the 2021 event will be scaled down significantly.
This distinctive Akita prefecture festival has been held for over 400 years. The small caves contain a small altar with rice wine and daifuku (rice cake) offerings to the gods. If you’re invited into a kamakura, you may also have the chance to enjoy some nihonshu (rice wine) and daifuku yourself.The lights will be switched on the night before from 6pm. If you’re in the area, be sure to keep an eye out for the local Banden processions taking place nearby from the 16th (additional info available at local tourist offices).
This isn’t the only kamakura festival in Akita. Festivals in various locations allow you to see kamakura from the end of January until the end of February.