2019 Winter Festivals Near Madarao

Japan is a nation that is in love with nature, and there are colourful local festivals that celebrate nature every year. Let’s see what’s happening this coming winter

January - Mid-Winter Fire Festivals

On 13th January 2019, the annual Madarao Fire Festival will be held - a big mid-winter tradition where the local community will come together to celebrate! Anybody can sign up for the festivities and join the townsfolk freely drinking sake all afternoon before riding down the mountain with flares! At the end of the night a huge bonfire is lit on the slope of the mountain for all to crowd around and enjoy the beautiful spectacle. 

From the 13th - 15th January in 2019, Nozawa Onsen (20 minutes drive from Iiyama) will host the Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival - the largest fire festival in Japan. The older generation will work to assemble gigantic (flammable) shrines in the middle of the town square, with the number of shrines built representing the number of newborn children who were born in the past year.


On January 15th everyone shares sake together with their neighbours while you watch villagers from the area come and assault the shrines in order to burn them to the ground! It’s all done in good fun and good spirits. You can find more information about this festival here. Raicho Lodge Festival can help you with transport to get there and back if you are interested to visit the festival, please contact us ahead of time if you would like a ride there and back.

February - Iiyama Snow Cave Festival

On the weekend of 9th - 10th February 2019 the 37th Iiyama “Kamakura” (aka snow cave) Winter Festival will be held. During the festival massive ice sculptures will be created so that bystanders can admire the skill exhibited by the artists using the ice. There are carnival games, musicians and tube rides in the snow that create a fun and family friendly atmosphere. In the evening there is a spectacular fireworks display to wow the crowd. Throughout the festival street food vendors line the avenues so that you can try all the local favourites and delicacies, and there is a large drinking festival on the final day to finish the revelries. 

Any time of year you can enjoy the winter sights around winter walk around Iiyama. Enjoy exploring the friendly local community who live in this, one of the heaviest snowfall regions of Japan. The snowy scenery of Iiyama is beautiful natural art! Don’t forget to try to spot every ornate manhole cover. Iiyama city is blessed with many fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. Due to the tough winter conditions the pioneers who originally settled in this region selected crops that would thrive in the local winter weather conditions. Local specialty recipes include a mustard stewed vegetable and radish stew, prepared in a large pan overflowing with flavour, that is served before the rice harvest.


If you would like to know more about any of these festivals, let us know in the comments!