Nagoya Matsuri
October 20 - 21, 2018

The Nagoya Matsuri is scheduled for October 20th and 21st. This is the 64th year of the festival, which takes place at Oasis 21, Hisaya Odori Park, Nagoya Castle and other locations around the city.

The Nagoya Matsuri is one of the biggest festivals in Nagoya and has been a popular event with locals since it started in 1955. 

Every year it is a little different but the defining feature of the festival is the appearance of three of Nagoya’s most famous warlords Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and Tokugawa Ieyasu and their princesses along with their soldiers in armor carrying weapons. The warlords and their retinue are prominently featured in one of a variety of parades featuring over 600 people, floats, shinto music, and dance performances. 

The parades take place in front of Nagoya Station, on Hirokoji-dori and on Otsu-dori (from Sakae to Yaba-cho) on Saturday Oct 20th and on Otsu-dori on Sunday the 21st.

The procession of the “Three Heroes” takes place on October 20th and starts at Nagoya Station and proceeds along a route that goes to Sasashima, Hirokoji-dori in Fushimi, and Sakae before ending at Yaba-cho. On October 21st the procession of the three feudal lords starts at the Nagoya City Hall and continues over Otsu Bridge to Sakae before ending in Yaba-cho. 

Although the parades are very famous, the weekend features a variety of stage performances and other events held at Hisaya Odori Park, Oasis 21, and Nagoya Castle. There will also be food stalls featuring a range of local Nagoya food at Hisaya Odori Park. 

During the weekend of the festival, the following attractions are open for free:

    • Nagoya Castle Oct 20, 21
    • Higashiyama Zoo &
      Botanical Garden Oct 21
    • Higashiyama Sky Tower Oct 21
    • Nagoya City Science Museum
      (Permanent exhibition) Oct 21
    • Nagoya City Art Museum
      (Permanent exhibition) Oct 21
    • Shirotori Garden Oct 21
    • Tokugawa Garden Oct 21
    • Cultural Path
    • Futaba Museum Oct 21
    • Cultural Path
      Shumokukan Oct 21
    • Togokusan Fruit Park Oct 21
    • Yokiso (South Garden) Oct 21

The “Three Heroes”

The Nagoya Matsuri celebrates three of the Tokai area’s most famous men

The Nagoya Matsuri takes place every year to honor three of the Tokai region’s most famous men- the samurai lords Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu

Both Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi were both born in what is present-day Nagoya (in 1534 and 1537, respectively), while Tokugawa Ieyasu was born in nearby Okazaki in 1542. Together, these three men were responsible for unifying Japan, bringing to a close nearly a century of unrest and civil war known as the Sengoku period.

To honor these “three heroes” during the festival three men are chosen to represent them, dressed in historically accurate clothing and paraded on traditional festival floats – and in the case of Nobunaga – upon a horse which is ceremonially fitted with accouterments similar to those employed during his lifetime.

A retinue of  princesses and soldiers accompany the three men as they make their way through the city creating a unique and historically evocative display.

But just who were these “Three Heroes?”

Oda Nobunaga
1534 ~ 1582

Born in Owari Province, Nobunaga was known as a powerful shogun who attempted to unify Japan and was the first of the three heroes. 

In the battle of Okehazama, he defeated Yoshitomo Imagawa and then gained control over most of Japan, however just before he completed the unification of Japan, he was executed by his retainer Mitsuhide Akechi in the 1582 Honno-ji incident in Kyoto. 

Toyotomi Hideyoshi
1537 ~ 1598

Hideyoshi was born under the name of Tokichiro Kinoshita to a farming family in what is now Nakamuwa-ku, Nagoya in Owari Province, home of the Oda clan. 

After distinguishing himself, he was called Hideyoshi Hasiba, which later changed again to Hideyoshi Toyotomi.

He took on an important role for his liege lord, Nobunaga Oda, and after Nobunaga’s death, he achieved Nobunaga’s goal of a unified the country. 

Tokugawa Ieyasu
1542 ~ 1616

Known as the founder and first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate of Japan, Ieyasu was born in Okazaki Castle as a son of Hirotada Matsudaira, the daimyo of Mikawa. He spent his childhood as a hostage of the Oda family and the Imagawa family. After Hideyoshi’s death, he led his forces to victory against  one of Hideyoshi’s chief administrators, Ishida Mitsunari in the decisive battle of Sekigahara. Following Tokugawa’s victory,  Ieyasu received the title of Shogun and began the Tokugawa shogunate which lasted for the next 250 years.

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