Things to Do | Visit Chiba | Latest update:2023/03/30
Chiba has many festivals to honor the kami gods and the blessings of the seas which surround Chiba’s home, the Boso Peninsula. Here, we’ll show you a handful of festivals involving dolls, portable shrine carrying, a ritual of cuisine, fireworks, and music.
*With the ongoing pandemic, please check the websites listed on this article to get updates on the status of the festivals.
“Hina Matsuri” or “Doll Festival” happens every year in Japan on March 3rd, and families across Japan will display their collection of traditional Japanese dolls in their homes to pray for the health of their daughters. In Katsuura City you’ll see the dolls adorning places around town as well. Tomisaki Shrine in Katsuura is perhaps the most famous for this, as the long staircase up the main shrine sees about 1,800 dolls decorating its steps. It’s a testament to longevity and also something that signals the coming of spring.
*Update: The festival has unfortunately been canceled in 2022 as well. Let’s hope we can hold it next year!
We call it the “naked” festival, but it’s really just people in minimal clothing. Why, you ask? Many men, women, and children of the community gather to lug mikoshi portable shrines down to the ocean on their shoulders in the late summer heat. Shops are open at night, and many stalls are set up selling food and drinks. It’s a large party to give thanks to the nearby ocean for all the bounty the ocean brings, and a great way to strengthen ties for all that join. Towards the end, when the kami return to the shrines, fireworks can be seen signaling the end of a successful festival.
*2021 unfortunately saw the event canceled. We hope see you there this year.
Here at Takabe Shrine, the one and only “deity of cooking”, Iwaka-mutsukari, is enshrined and revered. The unique festival, or rather ritual performance, carried out here in May, October, and November, is the Houchou-shiki, or “Knife ritual”. It involves the slicing and prepping of a whole fish, without the performer ever touching the fish with his hands. A large knife and long chopsticks are used to skillfully dissect and slice the fish, and arrange it ceremoniously on the cutting board. Please note that with the ongoing virus pandemic, the hosting of the ceremony may be subject to change.
With a history spanning nearly 300 years, Sawara Grand Festival is full of spectacles, fun, and excitement. Sawara has traditionally been a prosperous town of commerce, shipping soy sauce, rice, and other major commodities down to the capital of Edo (modern day Tokyo), and this festival celebrates that legacy. Massive wooden floats called dashi make their way through the town’s districts pulling wooden sculptures of famous figures in Japanese history and folklore; samurai generals, gods and goddesses, animals, and more. The floats themselves are intricately carved with different designs and depictions of events, and the entire town comes to see the parade of history and culture, accompanied by traditional music as well.
*2020’s and 2021’s festivals were unfortunately canceled due to the pandemic, but the festival is set to be held in 2022.
1 Hama-Katsuura, Katsuura City
(10-minute walk from JR Sotobo Line, Katsuura Station)
164 Minamiasai, Chikuracho, Minamiboso City
(5 minutes by car from JR Uchibo Line, Chikura Station)