56. Misakubo MatsuriA performance festival in Hamamatsu, Shizuoka. Neighborhood teams rehearse skits for months in advance of the mid-September festival. Performances rotate from neighborhood to neighborhood. Town leaders pick the best performance each year.
At night wooden floats are paraded through the streets of the city.
57. Hakata Gion Yamakasa in FukuokaThe first Yamakasa festival took place in the 13th century. There was a terrible plague in 1241 — mikoshi were carried through the streets of Fukuoka to purify the city.
The modern festival is a two week event that features a mikoshi race. Teams from different neighbourhoods practice racing through the streets with mikoshi weighing 1000 kilograms (2200 pounds) for over a week before the big event. Only men are allowed to carry the mikoshi. Participants wear traditional loincloths (shimekomi) marked with the emblem of their team — they take pride in these uniforms. Shimekomi are considered formal wear and can be worn to weddings and funerals (only during the festival).
58. Fuji Rock FestivalAn annual 3 day music festival held at Naeba Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture. Fuji Rock features around 200 performers and attracts 100,000 people each year. Headliners are often top international rock bands.
Fuji was Japan's first outdoor rock festival. The first year of the festival (1997) was a bit of a disaster. The festival was struck by a typhoon. Musicians such as Red Hot Chilli Peppers played right through the storm but eventually organizers cancelled the second day of the festival. The second day turned out to be sunny.
Despite a rough start the festival has been a success and is now on its 15th year.
59. Sagicho Fire FestivalA mid March fire festival in Omihachiman City, Shiga Prefecture. Twelve neighbourhoods compete to build the best Sagicho.
A Sagicho is a 5 meter (16 foot) float that's essentially a huge decorative straw torch. They're usually decorated with the year's Chinese Zodiac animal. They're paraded through town and then set ablaze. People dance wildly around the burning floats.
60. Onbashira MatsuriThe Onbashira Matsuri is a dangerous festival that often takes the lives of participants and spectators.
It's held every 6 years (year of the monkey and tiger) in Suwa, Nagano prefecture. Giant cedar trees are cut from a mountain primordial forest. Four large trees are selected that are up to 20 meters (65 feet) tall and weight up to 3 tons. They are used to repair Suwa Taisha Shrine. They are blessed, cut and delivered to the shrine in the ancient traditional way.
This means racing the giant trees down the mountain like a sled (with participants riding on top). The festival attracts 2 million spectators.