Summer in Japan is synonymous with heat, humidity, and more enticingly, festivals! While ‘matsuri’ (festivals) take place throughout the year and for countless (often obscure) reasons summer is the season in which people take to the streets to celebrate in the warm evenings. A time to come together as a community, to chat and laugh with family and friends (both old and new), eat, drink, and dance!
From August 14th to 15th, Nagano’s famous Zenko-ji Temple will play host to the annual summer ‘Ennichi Festival’ during ‘Obon’, an important period each year when the human and spirit worlds are considered to be at their closest, and a time in which Japanese pay tribute and commune with their ancestors. Visiting a temple during Ennichi is believed to bring greater luck and fortune on devotees than on other days of the year.
Over the two day festival, Zenko-ji will come to life with dancing, food vendors, and game stalls. It’s a great way to feel part of the community and sample festival staples including okonomiyaki, takoyaki, and yakisoba or trying your hand at old-school shooting galleries and other fun games! Most importantly, celebrations culminate in the performance of the traditional ‘Bon-Odori’ dance by the community, revolving around a temporary tower constructed in front of the temple. The steps are simple and someone will show you how to join in, led by singer atop the tower.
For festival-goers wanting to rest their feet and enjoy some of Nagano City’s best cuisine and drinks menu, Monzen Terrace Enya has recently opened just outside of the temple complex. Enya has quickly become a Snow Monkey Resorts favorite due to its outdoor seating and terrace, at which you can unwind in the comfortable warmth of summer evenings while soaking in the festival atmosphere with a cold drink and enticing food.
Enya prides itself for using the best of local produce and meat, with seafood sourced at markets on the nearby Sea of Japan including an indulgent menu of sashimi and sushi. With an English menu and helpful staff, Enya is the best place to enjoy the festival while tasting some of the best food and drink that Nagano has to offer!
Should you wish to stay overnight in Nagano – a recommendation when attending the festival given the crowds headed to and from the station – we also recommended Hotel Kokusai 21, Nagano’s premier accommodation for international visitors. With an established reputation for catering to the needs and expectations of international visitors, Kokusai 21 offers guests pickup and drop-off at nearby JR Nagano Station, Western-style rooms and facilities, a range of both Japanese and international restaurants, and English-speaking staff to assist you with your needs both in Nagano and for your onward journey.
Conveniently located between the station and Zenko-ji Temple, Kokusai 21 is ideally located for guests wanting to enjoy the best of the festival within easy walking distance of their accommodation. It is our recommendation when visiting Nagano City and in particular, this August when joining in the celebrations of Ennichi.
Ennichi Festival will take place in the Zenko-ji Temple compound, August 14th to 15th 2018 from 5PM to 9PM. To get to the temple from JR Nagano Station simply exit via the Zenkoji Exit and follow the crowds up the hill.