Every year, between May 3 and May 5, Hiroshima’s 100m wide Peace Boulevard is closed to traffic and given over to parades, dancing, stages and stalls. The Flower Festival, with its carnivalesque atmosphere, draws over a million people every year. There are countless stages and hundreds of stalls. The schedule is confusing to say the least (and in Japanese). Hopefully, this guide will help you make some sense of the mayhem, or, if you are feeling brave, download the official 2019 Flower Festival PDF guide here [ja].
The theme of 2019’s festival gives a nod to the new era that was ushered in this week with the change of emperor. Reiwa is not actually mentioned as the festival poster had tro be published before the name of the new era was announced. Hana-hiraku, yume to heiwa no, shin-jidai [花ひらく 夢と平和の 新時代] which means something like “Flowers bloom in the new era of peace and dreams”.
The symbolic “Flower Tower” made of some 8000 blooms and which stands in front of the Peace Museum during this year’s festival will be adorned with the image of a person holding a bouquet that is about to bloom. The design was thought up by a 45 year old company worker with the help of his kids and selected from 149 entries).
The event opens with the Flower Parade starting just after 11:00 on May 3 from the Takara-machi intersection on Peace Boulevard (near Fuji Grand) and which makes its way to Peace Memorial Park. The parade will by two brothers who work in the Sanfrecce FC organization, alongside 40 kids from the former Junior High School in Yano, an area badly effected by last year’s flooding. They will carry a torch lit from the Flame of Peace in Peace Memorial Park. Following them, community groups, companies, floats, Harley Davidson bikes and the “Flower Float” bearing this year’s Flower Festival Queens. See the whole list, in Japanese, here.
Although, for much of the first and third days of the Flower Festival, Peace Boulevard is closed for parades and the sidewalks get very crowded, the the main street is open all day on the middle day and it’s much easier to get around the event. The parades on day one and three are usually over by about 3pm, from when the road is opened to the public.
The area around the main Carnation Stage in front of the Peace Museum also gets very busy during the main events and for the big guests (sometimes fans camp over night to a choice spot in front of the stage). That said, other you can usually get a view of other events such as the kagura performances on the Carnation Stage on the first evening as people in front tend to sit on the ground.
Most of Day 3 is taken up with Yosakoi performances, first on Peace Boulevard and then on the main stage. It can get a bit much after a while, but the Yosakoi Dance Parade is GetHiroshima’s jjwalsh’s favorite part of the Flower Festival and she loves getting there early to secure a good vantage point on the curb (usually on the north side of Peace Boulevard to stay in the shade for as long as possible) and taking photos of all the colorful dance groups.
If you want a break from all the heavily choreographed and somewhat corporate atmosphere of the festival, head over to Skate World. Just behind the main Carnation Stage, next to the river is a mini skate park put together by local skaters and their mates with soundtrack provided by DJs and bands playing on the back of truck. Delightfully anarchic, but be careful, I got a board in the back of my neck while I was nodding along to some reggae a couple of years ago. Kids are welcome, though, unless they know what they are doing, it’s best that they play around on the ramps earlier in the day.
As mentioned above, the schedule is pretty confusing (and in tiny type!), so it makes sense to play things by ear and follow your nose! There’s an awful lot of community groups doing hula or flamenco and school-age hip hop dancers, but you never know what you might come across.
Flower Parade 11:00-15:00 Peace Boulevard
The parade starts in front of the Oriental Hotel and makes its way to peace boulevard. If you plan to try and grab a spot along the route, please be aware that the groups will not be stopping to do their regular performances at the large intersections or on the Peace Bridge.
International performances on the Carnation Stage 12:30~
- Mariachi band from Mexico
- Bian Lian Chinese Face Mask Changing Dance
- Samba by Unidos Rosa de Hiroshima
- And, somewhat bizarrely, Kureshi, Kure city’s inexplicable yuru-kyara mascot
Taiko Drumming Performances
- 10:30 Daisy stage
- 14:30 Bara Stage
- 17:30 Bara Stage
- 17:45 Margaret Stage
Kagura Performances 18:15 Carnation Stage
- CAY SOUND TRICKS
- Jacky and Higebanban
- The Skaills
Peace Flower Project illuminations in Peace Park
Street Athletics 13:30~in front of Peace Memorial Park
Locally-born Japanese 400m hurdler Dai Tamsesue is joined by long jump world record holder Mike Powell and triple jumper Willy Banks and other athletes take on challenges from the crowd in a mini Flower Festival track meet in front of Peace Park.
Pole vault demo, athlete’s “talk show”, elementary school 50m sprint heats, sprint and high jump demos, athletes vs kids and prize giving.
Live Flower Arranging Performance 11:00~ Peace Flower Stage
STU48 Carnation Stage 14:00~
Battle Of The Bands 16:00~ Sakura Stage
- Kitsune Rockets
- Yellow stitch
- Negi Zoku
Yosakoi dance performances 18:30~ Carnation Stage
Taiko Drumming Performances
- 13:00 Bara Stage
- 14:10 Margaret Stage
- 15:00 Carnation Stage
- 15:00 Performance Hiroba
- 15:30 Carnation Stage
- 16:00 Carnation Stage
- 17:00 Bara Stage
- 17:20 Satsuki Stage
- 17:30 Carnation Stage
- 18:00 Carnation Stage
- EYESCREAM JET SET
- marron aka dubmarronics(京都)
- Soul Familiar All Stars
- Matt (NY, Brooklyn)
Peace Flower Project illuminations in Peace Park 18:00-21:00
The final day of the Flower Festival is all about dressing up brightly colored robes, painting your face and doing the energetic yosakoi dance – all day long. The winners perform at the end of the day on the main Carnation Stage in Peace Park. Great for photos!
Giant Calligraphy performances 10:30-14:00
Across the river from A-bomb Dome next to the Peace Bell
Yosakoi Dance Parade 11:00-14:45 Peace Boulevard (31 competition teams and 7 invited groups)
Yosakoi Dance Performances on the Carnation Stage 14:30-18:30 Peace Boulevard
Taiko Drumming Performances
- 14:50 Bara Stage
- 15:00 Bara Stage
- 15:40 Maragret Stage
- 16:45 Hop Stage
- 17:35 Margaret Stage
- Yuichiro Asano
Peace Flower Project illuminations in Peace Park 18:00-20:00
Flower Festival Map
View Hiroshima Flower Festival in a larger map