Takebe Matsuri Festival
Takebe, Okayama – Japan
An intangible cultural heritage in a charming town

townspeople gathering for the festival


Festivals are a dime a dozen. Japan has tons of it, everywhere.

So what makes the Takebe Matsuri Festival any different and special?


15.Takebe Town in Okayama

Takebe Town in Okayama


For one, it has been designated as an important intangible folk cultural property by the Okayama Prefectural government – meaning, authentic traditions can be seen and felt in this festival, a rare experience in these times.

With urbanization and regional changes, rural towns disappearing with an aging population, and young people migrating to the cities, festivals have been reduced to merely being a commercial affair.

The Takebe Matsuri Festival is an uncommon sight – a true original. Entire communities from across eight shrines in Takebe Town Okayama gather and work together to celebrate this event.


1.About the Takebe Matsuri Festival

About the Takebe Matsuri Festival


While observing the religious aspects of the festival and the custom offerings to the shinto gods, the matsuri (festival) comes with unique stick-fighting performances complete with masks and elaborate costumes, a heroic lion dance and food stalls offering visitors a taste of local culture and cuisine. with stick in demon costume

man with stick in demon costume


Catch a glimpse of “kagura,” a sacred Japanese dance and music ritual dedicated to the gods of Shinto, usually telling a story of gods defeating demons. Since ancient times, “kagura” has been performed to appeal to the heavens for a good harvest and to ward off natural calamities/disasters.


6.lifting up the lion

lifting up the lion





14.Shinto priests and offerings

Shinto priests and offerings


17.townspeople gathering for the festival

townspeople gathering for the festival


It is a wonderful tradition enjoyed by people of all ages, a preservation of culture, a strengthening of community ties and values.


16.tori sacred gate leading to Shichisha Hachimangu Shrine

tori sacred gate leading to Shichisha Hachimangu Shrine


Portable shrines (mikoshi) coming from eight areas in Takebe-machi (town), assemble at the Shichisha Hachimangu Shrine for this occasion.


9.mikoshi portable shrines

mikoshi portable shrines


Watching these “mikoshi” shrines march through the ricefields, their banners waving in the wind, evokes a sense of awe and grandeur. The fierceness and manner with which the stick and pole fighting is done reflects the Takeno-uchi style in jujutsu martial arts (which is over 500 years old).


11.stick fighting

stick fighting


There is also a children’s kagura dance presentation and a competition amongst the townspeople on whose mikoshi (portable shrine) is lifted up to the highest heights. To be actually here, to witness the spirit and vitality of the village people as they raise their voices together as one, is exhilarating.


12.raising up the mikoshi (portable shrines)

raising up the mikoshi (portable shrines)


The Takebe Matsuri Festival is usually held on the 2nd Sunday of October (originally the 15th of September on the lunar calendar). This year, the festivities have been deferred due to coronavirus considerations.


13.Shichisha Hachimangu - main shrine

Shichisha Hachimangu – main shrine


4.guardians of the shrine

guardians of the shrine


However, visiting the main shrine where the festival is celebrated (Shichisha Hachimangu) on a regular day turned out to be quite nice too. Access from JR Fukuwatari Station is convenient.


2.giant cedar tree by the shrine

giant cedar tree by the shrine


8.midway up the shrine

midway up the shrine


Even on an ordinary day, one could feel the energy and power emanating from the ground of the shrine. The dedication and passion of the people who strive to keep traditions alive, preserving and passing it on to succeeding generations can be clearly felt.


5.komainu - lion-dogs

komainu – lion-dogs


3.guardians of the shrine

guardians of the shrine


Right next to the shrine is Sunny Day Coffee, a home-grown coffee roastery that ships beans all over Japan – a welcome treat.  Just a few meters across is Takebe Yahata Onsen, one of Okayama’s largest hot springs.


On the other side of the road is the Takebe yogurt factory and a museum of classic Japanese toys as well as a medaka river fish aquarium and preservation center.


Cross the Bridge of Happiness (Shiawase-bashi), and you can see a traditional house dating back to 1911, a souvenir center for tourists and a handmade pizza place.


Information about the festival and the shrine are readily available at the public library by JR Fukuwatari Station and the tourism center.


19.view on the way down

view on the way down


Visit Takebe-machi for a genuine and moving experience at the Takebe Matsuri Festival, and/or otherwise visit anytime and spend a lovely day in a charming town that cherishes tradition.



Shichisha Hachimangu – site of Takebe Masturi Festival

8 Takebecho Takebekami, Kita-ku, Okayama City, Okayama Prefecture 709-3142




·  13 minutes on foot from Fukuwatari Station (JR Tsuyama line)

·   50 minutes from JR Okayama Station


Car / Self-drive

·   4 minutes by car from Fukuwatari Station (JR Tsuyama line)

·   24 minutes from Momotaro International Airport (Okayama) – via Route 53, 61 or 71

·   30 minutes by car from the Okayama Interchange, 45-60 minutes’ drive from Okayama City, via Route 53, 61 or 72 on the national highway



The shrine is open all day (24 hours)

Main event hours on festival day: 13:30 – 15:30





Other Information:

Parking and WC restroom facilities at Takebe Yahata Onsen (about 2 minutes away). On festival days, temporary parking lots are available in the immediate vicinity.


Things to see and do around the area

(within 10-15 minutes’ walk from the shrine)

・Takebe Cultural Center

・Yahata Onsen Hot Spring

・The 1911 House

・Sunny Day Coffee

・Takebe Yogurt Factory

・Medaka Fish Center

・Pizzeria Maruya

・Yamada Deli

・Takebe Town tourism page



086-722-1111 / 086-722-4052 (Japanese)


Website: (Japanese) (Japanese)




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