Toukasan Yukata Festival

Held every year for three days starting on the first Friday of June, Toukasan [とうかさん] is the most festive of Hiroshima’s downtown festivals and has a history that goes back 400 years. Signalling the start of summer, locals mark the occasion by giving traditional lightweight summer kimono, called yukata, their first outing of the year. Everyone, from young punks to pensioners, loves Toukasan and the streets in the city center are packed and ablaze with color.

Enryji Temple, otherwise known as Toukasan

Details about special events over the 3-day festival, including where to get some help fixing your yukata and obi.

Most will line up at Enryu-ji Temple at the end of Chuo-dori – recognizable by the many many read lanterns that hand over the forecourt (not to mention the long line that spills out and down the street during the festival) – to pray to Touka Daimyoujin for good fortune, but Toukasan is as much about showing off your yukata, sampling the street food and playing festival games as it is about religious ritual.

Everyone Loves Toukasan

Toukasan Festival treatsjpg

Toukasan knowledge

 

Touka is an alternative reading for the characters of the Shinto god Inari [稲荷]- the kami of rice, prosperity, fertility as well as other good stuff like tea and sake. Inari shrines are distinguished by multiple torii gates and statues of foxes – the most famous being Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto – and you’ll often find them within the grounds of a Buddhist temple, as at Enryu-ji Temple here in Hiroshima.
Toukasan

The festival was originally held on the day on which Boys’ Day fell on the old lunar calendar. As that could be anywhere from early May to late June in the Gregorian calendar it was decided that it would be held around the 10th of June (the 10th of the month also being referred to as touka in Japanese). Pressure from traders saw the festival extended to two, and then three days. Inari is the god of prosperity after all. Since 1999, the festival has started on the first Friday of June, ensuring a full weekend of enlightened cash flow.

After paying your respects, make a ¥300 or ¥1000 offering and get a yakuyoke uchiwa fan. According to the temple website these fans are the embodiment of Touka Daimyoujin herself, and the most effective talisman for warding off misfortune in all of Japan. Guaranteed to be effective aid to health, wealth and longevity. Quite a bargain.

After paying your respects, make a ¥300 offering and get a yakuyoke uchiwa fan. According to the temple website these fans are the embodiment of Touka Daimyoujin herself, and the most effective talisman for warding off misfortune in all of Japan. Guaranteed to be effective aid to health, wealth and longevity. Quite a bargain.

yakuyoke uchiwa

 

How to Toukasan

Toukasan starts around noon each day and runs until about 11pm. It’s after dark that it gets really lively. The main Chuo-dori street is closed to traffic from 7:30pm on the first two nights (Friday and Saturday), though much of the street is taken up by dance and drum performances, fashion shows and other events. It is pretty cool to be on Chuo-dori just before they closed the street, just to see the crowds flood in from the packed sidewalks and enjoy a few minutes of unimpeded “pedestrian paradise”. Once the events in the middle of the street get going pedestrian traffic moves painfully slow so leave plenty of time to get from one end of the street to the other.

Chuo-dori during the Toukasan Yukata Festival

Dance performance on Chuo-dori during the Toukasan Yukata Festival

Yukata Fashion Show on Chuo-dori at Toukasan

Although the atmosphere on the main street is fun and the dance performances are very enthusiastic, for our money, the best place during Toukasan is Shintenchi “Park” just off Chuo-dori and on the edge of the entertainment district.

Shintenchi Park during the Toukasan-Yukata-Festival

Bon dance in Shintenchi at the Toukasan Yukata Festival

The local residents” association holds a old-style bon odori dance festival in which everyone is welcome to join. It’s an event that evokes 1960s and 1970s Japan. Kids love the retro cotton candy, snacks and ramune drinks, which are sold at prices that parents love. There are beer stalls and a conveniently placed convenience store which can save you a good amount of cash. There are two bon odori sessions each night, at 19:00 and 21:00 and there are always a good mix of old ladies, families and international travellers dancing their way around the platform. Just follow the moves of those around you, or just improvise! A local favorite is enka singer, Minami Issei, who makes several appearances during the festival to sing Hiroshima Tengoku (Hiroshima Paradise) and the Carp song.

Our annual event listing usually gets updated around the end of May with the latest event information.

Paul Walsh

Paul arrived in Hiroshima "for a few months" back in 1996. He is the co-founder of GetHiroshima.com and loves running in the mountains.

3 thoughts on “Toukasan Yukata Festival

  • June 5, 2014 at 2:35 pm
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    私はあなたに浴衣幸せな饗宴を願っています。私はあなたと一緒にいる大好きですが、私はフランスで非常に遠くています。
    乾杯市広島。
    Je vous souhaite une bonne fête du YUKATA. J’aimerai être avec vous, mais je suis très loin, en France.
    Vive Hiroshima shi.
    Daniel,

    Reply
  • June 2, 2015 at 7:40 am
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    wonderful article on Toukasan festival in hiroshima, how would you get to the location via train? which stop and directions to the area would be appreciated … thank you

    Reply
    • June 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm
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      Hi paul

      You can take a streetcar from Hiroshima Station to Hatchobori and walk south (towards Peace Boulevard) down Chuo-dori where all the main action is. Toukasan the temple is at the end of Chuo-dori at the junction with Peace Boulevard.

      Hope this helps. Let us know if you still have any more questions.

      Paul
      GetHiroshima

      Reply

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