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Goin’ Japanesque!

The Shimonoseki Strait Festival: Time Travel to the Edo Period!

Shimonoseki-shi of Yamaguchi Prefecture is where the famous Ganryujima is located, an island that has become famous for the duel between Musashi and Kojiro. Here in this location, the traditional Shimonoseki Strait Festival is held from May 2nd to May 4th every year. This festival accurately reenacts what actually occurred at the Kanmon Strait long ago. Among many attractions, here, we have selected a few highlights to introduce to you.


May 3

1. Senteisai (Sentei Festival)


On March 24th 1185, the Heishi (Taira clan) was defeated by the Genji (Minamoto clan) in the Battle of Dan-no-ura. As a result Emperor Antoku of the Heishi Clan had thrown himself into the rapid current of the Kanmon Strait and drowned, despite being only 8 years old. It has been told that the Senteisai began by people offering their prayers to console Emperor Antoku and it has been a very traditional Japanese event since.



May 3

2. The Genji and Heishi Warrior Parade


Samurai warriors dressed in vivid costume are separated into the Genji and the Heishi clans and parade throughout the city. It is a regal sight as if they are really marching to the battlefields and astonishes onlookers. This parade is an enactment of the Genpei War, the war between the two rivaling clans.

We were also able to find Musashi-Bo Benkei. (The man with the white cloth on his head.)


May 3

3. The Genji and Heishi Naval War


In this event, a fleet of about 200 ships sail out and reenact the scene of the battle on the waters of the Kanmon Strait. You can experience a realistic battle that goes on amidst the wild waves.



May 3

4. Hacchouhama Dance


About 1000 dancers with rice paddles in their hands dance and call out the rallying cries, “Hacchouhama Erayaccha”.  

We see some tourists participating too, it looks so fun!


May 4

5. Ganryujima Festival


There are several events that you can actually participate in at Ganryujima so we will introduce a few. The scene of the famous duel between Musashi and Kojiro is reenacted too and it’s quite extraordinary!


Kendo Matches



Tug of War



Reenactment of the duel between Musashi and Kojiro


Wouldn’t you like to be a samurai warrior too?? :)


6. Local Delicacies


Last but not least, the fugu (pufferfish) is a local delicacy of Shimonoseki. The photo shows fugu sashimi. Be sure to try it when you’re there! It’s delicious!


Place: Shimonoseki-shi, Yamaguchi Prefecture
Nearest station: JR Sanyo-honsen Shimonoseki Station
Dates: May 2 ~ 4
Phone: 083-231-1350
Cost: 900 ~ 1800 yen (for Ganryujima Festival, ship fees included)

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