Must-see Local Events in Fukuyama


As the gateway for all journeys to the Setouchi region, Fukuyama is full of events worth taking time out of your trip to see such as festivals meant to keep ancestral traditions alive along or functions put on by locals to help others see the charms of the region. Here are some events that will be held between April and August in 2019.

1. 4/28(Sun) Tomo / Waiting for the tide to turn Light Truck Market(Tomonoura)
A local morning market with food from Setouchi

A morning market held every month along the road leading the Nunakuma Shrine in the western foothills. In addition to local fresh fruits and vegetables, one can also find a wide selection of processed foods like bread and syrup, as well as specialty like sea bream miso that bring out the people of the community in droves. This is a good chance to glimpse the day-to-day flow of time in Tomonoura in non-touristy setting.

Tomo / Waiting for the tide to turn Light Truck Market 
Date:2019/4/28(Sun)8:00~11:30 *canceled only in case of heavy rain 
Place:Nunakuma Shrine 
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station 

2. 4/28(Sun)~Tomonoura Sea Bream Catch Sightseeing(Tomonoura)
Observe net fishing for sea bream, an early spring tradition in Tomonoura

(Picture Provided by Fukuyama city)

An impactful event that involves watching “tai-shibari amiryou” (net fishing for sea bream), an iconic fishing method passed down in the Setouchi Inland Sea since the Edo Period (1603–1868). Visitors take a ferry from the pier in Tomonoura to Sensuijima Island, where they can observe a performance on taiko drums made from casks wishing for safety and a bountiful catch on the voyage along with prayer dances by servants of Benzaiten (a Buddhist guardian deity) and Otohime (a beautiful princess of legend who lives in a palace on the ocean floor). Afterwards guests board a tourist boat to observe the actual net fishing itself, an uncommon sight, and then do a circuit of the harbor to take in the waters of the inland sea. The event was designated an intangible folk cultural property of Fukuyama City in 2015.

Tomonoura Sea Bream Catch Sightseeing
Date:2019/4/28(Sun), 4/29(Mon・Holiday), 5/3(Fri・Holiday)~26(Sun)
Morning part 10:30~(Sun & Holiday only)
Afternoon part 13:30~(Everyday)
Place:Tanoura, Sensuijima, Tomo-cho, Fukuyama-shi 
Access: 30 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station 
Admission fees:Adults (high school students or older): 2,800 yen / Children (elementary and junior high school students): 1,400 yen 

*If you visit Tomonoura by bus from Fukuyama Station, discounted ticket sales in  Fukuyama ekimae Bus information office. Adults 3,300 yen、Children 1,650 yen

3. 5/3(Fri・Holiday)Utsumi Tairyou Festivalm(Utsumicho)
Experience fishing village culture with all five senses

(Picture Provided by Shinpei Ogawa)

An event that kicks off at the Hakozaki fishing port in Utsumi-cho at 8 in the morning with catch phrases like “Freshly-caught fish at shocking prices! Sorry if we’re sold out!” Seeing the fresh fish and shellfish in the crawl is fun. Even if you aren’t buying any fish yourself, you can still enjoy your fill of what the waters have to offer at the seafood barbecue. Also worth checking out are dried fish, specialty nori, and other maritime delicacies that can be eaten on the go. Whether it’s listening to students from Uchiura Elementary School perform fishermen’s folks songs or trying your own hand at catching fish with a net, there is plenty here for both adults and kids to do.

Utsumi Tairyou Festivalm
Place:Hakozaki fishing port in Utsumicho (Please follow the big-catch flag) 
Access: 42 minutes by car from Fukuyama Station, 1 hour 35 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station (change bus one time)

4. 5/18(Sat)19(Sun)Fukuyama Rose Festival(In Fukuyama city)
Find out why Fukuyama is called “the city of roses”

(Picture Provided by Fukuyama city)

One of the biggest events in Fukuyama in which you can enjoy gorgeous roses all over the city. The truth is, nearly 80 percent of Fukuyama burnt down during major air raids during the war (1945). It gained the moniker of “city of roses” due to the manner in which the citizens planted thousands of roses amidst the rubble in an attempt to reclaim a bit peace of mind and escape the period of confusion following the war. The Fukuyama Rose Matsuri began in 1968, and has been held ever since in the parks and shopping streets blooming with nearly 5,500 flowers. Ponder the history of Fukuyama while basking in the beauty and wonderful scent of the roses as well as watching the parade and other festivities.

Fukuyama Rose Festival
Place:Rose Park, Midori-machi Park, Hanazono Park, Central Park, shopping street 
Access:20 minute’s walk from Fukuyama Station,  6 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station,

5.  5/25(Sat)Fukuyama Tomonoura Bentenjima Fireworks Display(Tomonoura)
Fireworks announcing the arrival of summer in Setouchi

(Picture Provided by Fukuyama Convention & Visitors Association)

Fireworks displays a summer staple in Japan, but in Tomonoura they like to start things early with what is the first show of its kind in the Setouchi area. The stage is Bentenjima, a small island that is home to Bentendou, a hall honoring the Buddhist guardian deity Benzaiten. After the locals get the party started with “Aiya-bushi”, a traditional performing art from Tomonura, the night sky is transformed into a colorful display by approximately 2,000 rounds of fireworks launched from Bentenjima. The painstaking presentation that includes submerged fireworks, set fireworks, and more is worth seeing. On the opposite shore where the audience sits is one of the favorite festivals enjoyed by the “Tomokko” (a term for the locals) filled with night stalls.

Fukuyama Tomonoura Bentenjima Fireworks Display
Place:Bentenjima (Tomonoura)
Access:30 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station

6. 7/13(Sat)Otebi Shinji(Tomonoura)
A festival dancing with sparks held by fervent followers of the local Shinto gods

(Picture Provided by Fukuyama city)

A fire festival passed down since before the middle ages in Tomonoura that has also been designated an intangible folk cultural property of Fukuyama City. It is one of the three largest of its kind in Japan, with the “ujiko” (shrine parishioners) clad in white costumes and tabi slowly proceed to the font of Nunakuma Shrine shouldering three enormous torches that are four meters long and weight close to 200 kilos. The flames are said to purify the area and exorcise evil. The highlight is definitely seeing the parishioners’ brave procession to the shrine as they endure the heat with constant splashes of water to their heads.

Otebi Shinji
Place:Nunakuma Shrine (Tomonoura)
Access30 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station

7. 8/3(Sat)4(Sun)Togyo / Kangyosai Festival(Tomonoura)
Parade around the city while hefting a mikoshi (portable shrine)

A festival at Yodohime Shrine that involves parading around a portable mikoshi shrine to the rhythm of the taiko drums. The shrine is located atop Myoujinmisaki Point to the west of Tomo Port and honors Yodohime, the supposed younger sister of Empress Jingu and guardian deity of the people living in the Hira district of Tomonoura since times of old. It has become known as “Hira’s mikoshi-throwing festival” for the way the portable shrine is almost tossed as it is carried around the plaza. Another nickname is the “dango festival”, which refers to the local custom of making mochi dango with anko red bean paste inside on the day before the event. The sight of the energetic procession is stirring. The festival also falls on the same day as Tanabata on the old calendar, which offers the added attraction of enjoying the Tanabata decorations around town at the same time.

Togyo / Kangyosai Festival
Place:Outer precincts of Nunakuma shrines
Access:30 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station

8. 8/14(Wed)15(Thu)Fukuyama Summer Festival(In Fukuyama city)
The town comes alive with dances and fireworks dating back to the Fukuyama samurai

(Picture Provided by Fukuyama city)

Lastly we have a festival that really spices up the summer season in Fukuyama. An intangible cultural property of Hiroshima Prefecture, this event features a dance passed down by Fukuyama samurai retainers that served in Edo during the early 19th century known as “Ni-agari odori” that parades around town to the accompaniment of shamisen, shakuhachi, and taiko. The dancers, both male and female, are clad entirely in white from their yukata to their geta. The men wear twisted hachimaki around their heads, while the women adorn themselves in kerchiefs or bamboo hats. Everyone dances to the distinct rhythm full of both elegance and plaintive melodies, clacking castanet-like percussion instruments all the while. The finale of the festival is a fireworks display at the Ashidagawa River. Seeing the fireworks reflected the against the expansive water and mountains is a luxury you won’t find in the city.

Fukuyama Summer Festival 
Date:8/14(Wed)“Ni-agari odori” and “Irohanmaru YOSAKOI”,  15(Thu)Ashidagawa River fireworks *TBC
Place:various parts of the Fukuyama city
Access:16 minutes by car from Fukuyama Station to Ashidagawa River,19 minutes by bus from Fukuyama Station to Ashidagawa River,

From festivals carefully preserved from a rich history to specialty markets born from the local’s love for their home, each of these events is packed with the essence of Fukuyama. If one of them catches your eye, please make sure to include it in your travel plans.

Translation:Luke Baker