Best Guide To Himeji Yukata Festival In Japan 2024

Yukata Festival-Ling

If you’re looking for a festival where you can wear a yukata and experience Japanese culture with the locals, don’t miss the Himeji Yukata Festival this summer!

Summer festivals in Japan are a big deal! But when it comes to Yukata festivals, the Himeji Yukata Festival is the oldest and most popular one. It’s known as 姫路ゆかたまつり (Himeji yukata matsuri) in Japanese, and people celebrate the traditional clothing ゆかた (yukata) with parades, fireworks, and local foods and drinks. This guide will give you everything you need to know about the festival and how to join in as a foreigner.

Table of Contents

Quick Information For Foreign Visitors

Here’s some basic info for those in a hurry:

  • Date: Late June
  • Hours: 4:30 PM – 9:30 PM
  • Entrance fee: Free entry
  • Location: In front of Himeji Castle. When you get off at Himeji Station, it’s about 10 mins on foot from there.
Himeji Yukata Festival-Yukata Festival-Ling

What Is Himeji Yukata Festival?

The Himeji Yukata Festival takes place every summer in Himeji city, which is famous for the Himeji Castle. It’s a suitable place for a day trip from major cities like Osaka and Kyoto, and the distance is about 30-40 minutes by the Shinkansen train.

The beginning of the Yukata festival dates back 260 years. Originally, it was dedicated to Himeyama, a local God of the Osakabe Shrine. At that time, Himeji Castle was built on the former grounds of Osakabe Shrine, and townspeople couldn’t pray there anymore because of its hard-to-reach location. Thus, Masamine Sakaibara (the lord of Himeji Castle) moved the shrine from the hill to downtown Himeji so people could easily visit and pray there.

After moving the shrine, a festival was held to celebrate its new location. But it was so sudden that townspeople didn’t have enough time and money to prepare and buy formal kimonos. Luckily, their lord allowed everyone to wear their yukata to the festival. This was big news because, unlike a kimono, wearing a yukata wasn’t appropriate for public ceremonies at that time. So, this was the origin of the Himeji Yukata Festival.

Why Should You Join The Yukata Festival?

Almost 200,000 people join the Himeji Yukata Festival annually, and there are over 500 food stalls that sell traditional Japanese street foods. Plus, it’s the biggest Yukata festival in Japan!

A big Japanese festival like this is a perfect opportunity to experience Japanese culture and share a common feeling with the locals. During the festival, you’ll see many Japanese people wearing a yukata in different colors and patterns, you’ll also be able to watch a yukata parade and a fashion show and listen to various music performances.

You can enjoy this festival with your friend group by wearing traditional yukata and eating delicious Japanese food at one of the food and drink stalls. Before the festival ends, don’t forget to buy souvenirs and take lots of photos!

When Is Himeji Yukata Festival 2024?

The Himeji Yukata Festival takes place in late June every year. Although the official date is not yet known, it will take place on the 2nd or 3rd weekend of June 2024.

How To Get To Himeji

From Osaka to Himeji: Himeji is directly connected to Osaka by the Sanyo Shinkansen line. Take the train from Shin-Osaka Station, and you’ll reach Himeji in about 40 minutes.

From Kyoto to Himeji: There’s a train departing from Kyōto and directly arriving at Himeji. Trains depart every 20 minutes and every day, and you’ll be in Himeji in about 35 minutes.

Once you get off at the Himeji Station, walk north on the wide Otemae-dori Street. The festival takes place right in front of Himeji Castle; since it’s a popular landmark of the city, any local can easily guide you there.

Can Foreigners Wear Yukata For The Festival?

Yes, of course! In general, foreigners are allowed to wear kimono and yukata in Japan, which can be a unique experience. Japanese people don’t see it as inappropriate at all, on the contrary, most of them seem to like it.

You can rent a yukata to wear to the festival at shops nearby. What’s more, festival-goers wearing yukata can benefit from special discounts at some shops around the festival area.

Himeji City-Yukata Festival-Ling

Must-See Places In Himeji City

While you are in Himeji City, you should also visit other places! Some of them can even be free to enter during festival time. Here are some must-see places in Himeji City:

  • Kokoen Garden – 甲子園 (Kōshien)
  • Himeji City Zoo – 姫路市動物園 (Himeji-shi Dōbutsuen)
  • Himeji City Museum of Art – 姫路市立美術館 (Himeji-shiritsu Bijutsukan)
  • Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History – 兵庫県立歴史博物館 (Hyōgo Kenritsu Rekishi Hakubutsukan)
  • Himeji City Museum of Literature – 姫路市文学館 (Himeji-shi Bungakukan)
  • Himeji Castle – 姫路城 (Himeji-jō)

Japanese Vocabulary For The Yukata Festival

Since you’re a foreigner who wants to join in the fun of the Yukata festival, learning some useful Japanese phrases can come in handy:

EnglishJapanese ScriptRomaji
Traditional Japanese summer garment浴衣Yukata
Sash for tying a yukataObi
Traditional Japanese wooden sandals下駄Geta
Excuse me, could you please help me tie my obi?すみません、帯を結んでくださいか?Sumimasen, obi wo musunde kudasai ka?
Thank you for the delicious food!おいしい食べ物、ありがとうございます!Oishii tabemono, arigatou gozaimasu!
Wow, the fireworks are so beautiful!すごい、花火はとてもきれいです!Sugoi, hanabi wa totemo kirei desu!
I’m sorry I bumped into youごめんなさい、ぶつかってしまってGomen nasai, butsukatte shimatte
Good evening! Are you enjoying the festival?こんばんは!祭りを楽しんでいますか?Konbanwa! Matsuri wo tanoshinde imasu ka?
Could you recommend a good spot to watch the fireworks?花火を見るいい場所をお勧めしてくれませんか?Hanabi wo miru ii basho wo osusume shite kuremasen ka?
I love your yukata, it’s so cute!あなたの浴衣が好きです、とてもかわいいですね!Anata no yukata ga suki desu, totemo kawaii desu ne!
Welcome to the festival! Enjoy your time here.お祭りへようこそ!ここで楽しんでください。Omatsuri e youkoso! Koko de tanoshinde kudasai.
Let’s go get some shaved ice to cool down.氷を食べるために行きましょう。Koori wo taberu tame ni ikimashou.
Would you like to take a picture together in our yukatas?二人で浴衣の写真を撮ってもいいですか?Futari de yukata no shashin wo totte mo ii desu ka?

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Final Words

Are you ready to visit Himeji and join the Yukata festival? Most summer festivals take place in hot weather, so make sure to stay hydrated and purchase an うちわ (uchiwa), which is a traditional Japanese fan, to cool yourself down!

If you’d like to join more Japanese festivals and say こんにちは (konnichiwa – hello) to cultural experiences, I’m sure you’ll love the Ninnaji Flower Festival and Omizutori Festival! See you in the next blog post, またね! (mata ne! – see you!)

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