Although the focus of Hiroshima city’s most festive festival, the 3-day Tōkasan “Yukata” Festival, is ostensibly Enruji Temple, aka Tōkasan, it takes over much of the city center. The main Chuo-dori thoroughfare is closed to traffic and hosts parades, drumming and dance shows, but for our money, Shintenchi Park is where it’s at.
Yukata de Bon Dance is held in Shintenchi “Park” between Chuo-dori and the Nagarekawa entertainment district. The local neighborhood association erects a bon dance platform in the middle of the park and strings up lanterns. There are also a couple of food stalls and a bunch of little stalls selling traditional festival treats like ramune sodas, popcorn and cotton candy and prices much more reasonable than the stalls that line the streets around.
Here, Every year, for three nights, local (mostly) ladies dress up in their yukata summer kimono and enjoy dancing around the podium to the same reassuringly regular selection of songs. Men, sometimes, in kids’ masks, bang out the beat on a drum and add percussive flourishes and dancers watch with baited breath as one very elderly gentleman makes his way up and down the side of the podium several times a night. It’s obvious that everyone is having a great time and anyone is welcome to join in, whether you know the moves or not.
As night falls, the lights come on and the party really gets started.
The star of the show is undoubtedly, however, local singer Issei Minami, who never fails to show up and belt out his crowd-pleasing Hiroshima Tengoku (Hiroshima Paradise) and the Carp song.
He always has time to sign fans for fans, young and old.
Yukata de Bon Dance used to be a fairly fringe event at Tōkasan, but in recent years has become more and more popular with people looking for a more “authentic” festival experience. Saturday is particularly busy and if crowds are not you thing, you might consider going on the opening Friday night or on Sunday when then rest of the festival is winding down. Whenever you go, Yukata de Bon Dance in Shintenchi Park is the best place to put your yukata through its paces at Tōkasan.