41. Ohara Matsuri in KagoshimaA two day dance and music festival at the start of November. Dances by thousands of performers to local folk music (Ohara-bushi and Hanya-bushi) are the highlights of the festival. Taiko drums feature prominently in local music traditions — it's quite intense.
42. Tachineputa MatsuriThe small city of Goshogawara, Aomori prefecture lights up with 21 meter (70 foot) tall illuminated floats. The floats dwarf all the buildings in town and many of them weight almost 20 tons.
The Tachineputa Festival dates back to the late 19th century. It was banned in the Meiji-era after a series of devastating fires in the city (the floats were illuminated with candles).
43. Miyajima Water Fireworks FestivalA mid August fireworks show at one of Japan's most photogenic places — The Floating Gate of Itsukushima Shrine.
44. Mitama MatsuriA mid July festival at controversial Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.
Yasukuni Shrine is dedicated to the memory of Japan's war dead. It's controversial because in 1959 and 1978 Japan's war criminals were enshrined here. This act essentially makes them a symbol of warship at the shrine. It's a sign to many that Japan isn't sorry about it's crimes in WWII. Several Japanese Prime Ministers have visited the shrine while in office.
Yasukuni Shrine is a favorite hangout of Japan's right wing groups.
The Mitama Festival itself is breathtaking. The entrance to the shrine is decorated with 12 meter (40 foot) high walls that are lit with around 30,000 lanterns. It's not just war criminals enshrined at Yasukuni — all of Japan's war dead are honored here. Families of the dead gather to remember.
45. Inuyama MatsuriA float festival (early April) at Harizuna-jinja shrine in Inuyama City, Aichi prefecture. The floats feature antique mechanized puppets (karakuri ningyo).
Japan was building automated puppets as early as the 16th century — the beginning of a national obsession with robots.