The Oishida Matsuri
Each summer, the small town Oishida comes alive during the Oishida Matsuri. During this two-night event, over 170,000 people descend into this small countryside town of 7,000 for dance performances, street parades, and a spectacular display of over 3,000 fireworks fired above the Mogami River.
It is a celebration full of incredible sights and excitement and the largest event of this small town that the residents of Oishida put their all into. Those visiting Yamagata in August will most certainly want to add this to their itinerary.
-The Oishida Matsuri is a two-day event on August 15th and August 16th each year.
-The dance performance is on August 15th starting at 4pm in front of Oishida Station.
-The firework festival and street parades are on August 16th starting at 5pm (the fireworks start at 7pm).
-There are multiple event parking lots on August 16th that charge 500 yen. (no reservations required, some lots may fill up)
-Viewing the dance festival and fireworks are free!
-Private seating is available, see below.
-Lodging in Oishida is not English-friendly and is often fully booked months in advance. Lodging can be found in the neighboring cities of Tendo or Shinjo.
-If you are visiting by train, please read the "Access" section at the bottom of this article for important information.
A girl performing the Hanagasa Dance
Steets lined with food vendors
Massive fireworks above the Ohashi Bridge
The Oishida Matsuri first started over 90 years ago to celebrate the construction of the Ohashi Bridge that flows between this town. True to this history, a large variety of fireworks are fired continuously above the Mogami River throughout the night offering a stunning view of the bridge and its reflection in the river. Thousands of paper lanterns also flow down the river further complimenting the exciting festivities.
Young adults parading through the streets
The Oishida Matsuri also celebrates the coming of age of its town's youth who turned 20 that year, the age when children officially become adults.
During the main festival, the new adults of Oishida announce their adulthood by carry very heavy mikoshi portable shrines through the city while chanting. Smiling parents and friends can also be seen circling around during this very proud moment.
Dozens of dancers performing the Hanagasa in front of Oishida Station
In addition to all of this, there is also a dance festival the night before the main firework show featuring the beautiful and unique dance styles from across Yamagata Prefecture and Japan. In the months and weeks leading up to this festival, performers can be seen practicing in front of the station.
August 15th, The Oishida Dance Festival
Performers of all ages dancing their hearts out
Marking the first night of festivities is an entire night of dance performances right in front of Oishida Station. The performances start at 4:00pm. You may wish to arrive earlier though to save a nice spot for viewing, additional viewing angles with seating are above the station.
This event features a rich variety of dances and performance groups from across Yamagata and Northern Japan including the Hanagasa Dance of Yamagata Prefecture and the Awa Odori of Tokushima.
Dancers performing the Hanagasa
Within each performance and each dancer, you can feel the excitement and pride of these traditional dances. Photographers will also appreciate the modern touch of an impressive lighting crew, ensuring that these dancers look their best as they dance their hearts out.
A performance with long wooden poles
One of the many amazing dance groups
Awa Dancing in front of Ooishida Station
A girl performing Awa Odori
The dance festival lasts until about 9:30pm and with such diverse performances you will certainly want to stay and see them all. There are also a variety of food stalls set up near the stage area.
Once again, please be sure to check the time of the last train out of Oishida if you came by train. (More info below)
Note that this night is generally not too crowded as the main draw of the festival is yet to come!
August 16th, The Oishida Firework Festival
Some of the 3,000 fireworks fired off during the night.
As amazing as the dance performances are on August 15th, the main draw of the Oishida Matsuri takes place the following night on August 16th. On this day, Oishida's population of approximately 7,000 hosts over 170,000 visitors from across Japan!
The coming of age ceremony before the fireworks
The first event of the night starts at 5pm with the street parade of Mitsukoshi (portable shrines). Most notably, the town of Oishida celebrates the coming of age of its youth with a parade of mitsukoshi shrines through the streets.
In Japan turning 20 years old is a major life event that marks one's ascent to adulthood.
The excited chanting of these youths and the cheers of family and friends offers a chance to experience this aspect of Japanese culture in person.
Some of the young adults
In addition to the 20 year olds, there are many other participants in the parade and an entire street lined with food and games in true Japanese summer fashion.
The main parade street
As the skies begin to darken, the crowds of the Oishida Festival migrate to the river as the main firework event begins at 7pm.
The start of the firework festival
One of the greatest parts of this event is the sheer amount of fantastic viewing options visitors have to see the show. From the main viewing area right in front of the launch area, visitors can line up along the river trail to enjoy the show however they like.
Some examples of the many viewing options along the Mogami River
The Oishida Firework festival also features special fireworks that have a massive 450 meter burst radius that fill the entire sky above Oishida.
These fireworks can be observed with the Ohashi Bridge in the foreground for an iconic view of this festival and the very bridge it celebrates.
Another unique firework to this show are the star mine clusters that burst in a variety of different colors in a wide radius.
A single 450 meter radius firework bursting over the Ohashi Bridge
With such a large variety of fireworks and festivities, the Oishida Festival is the perfect Summer event to plan a visit to Yamagata around. Check back soon for a full list of activities in and around Oishida to enjoy during the day!
A star mine firework and its dozens of colorful clusters
The dance festival address
The firework and parade address
For vistors driving note that there is a parking fee of 500 yen on August 16th for the main festival. There are multiple lots available throughout the town.
For visitors taking the train please note the following.
- On August 15th for the Dance Festival, the last trains departing for the larger cities are at about 9pm. Be sure to keep track of time as the festival may last until after 9pm.
- On August 16th for the Firework Festival there is a special late train that will depart at 9:44pm towards Yamagata specifically for guests visiting the festival.
Hotels and Lodging
Please note that Oishida has very few lodging facilities available. Further, they have no English capabilities and are often fully booked well in advance.
We recommend finding lodging in the neighboring cities of Tendo, Shinjo, or Yamagata.