Updated: Jun 14, 2020
There are numerous events that take place year-round. Enjoy the natural beauty of the islands across all four seasons and get acquainted with local traditions.
Meizaiten Festival: This annual festival takes place in Arikawa on the second Saturday in January. Young men beat taiko drums and chant traditional whale songs while parading around the area to pray for economic prosperity, good fishing catches, and the well-being of families. It is believed that the festival originally began 400 years ago during the Keicho era.
Iwaya Kannon Ennichi Festival: This festival takes place at Kannondake Park every year on January 17th and 18th. There are vendors selling charms, fortunes, udon and snacks. During this festival, the caves at the park are illuminated and visitors can look around inside them.
Tsubaki Satoyama Festival: This event features camellia-related activities and products for sale. It coincides with the Goto Islands Camellia Road-Nordic Walking event.
Goto Islands Camellia Road-Nordic Walking: Hike with the assistance of poles amid blooming camellias. Participants can choose from a short course (roughly 10 km) and a long course (roughly 18 km).
Goto Udonba Kuutesaruko: Goto udon is free to sample from over ten vendors across town during this day-long event.
Fireflies at Aiko River: Enjoy the enchanting glow of thousands of fireflies along the Aiko River. The firefly species genji-botaru and hime-botaru can be found in plentiful numbers after sundown.
Triathlon in Kamigoto: This Narao-centered competition begins with an ocean swim along the shore of Takaitabi Beach.
“Asobo” Play Day at Hamaguri Beach: This family-friendly event celebrates the opening of town beaches for the summer season. Enjoy watermelon splitting, games, and free use of kayaks and other aquatic equipment on the beautiful Hamagurihama Beach.
Jushichinichi (17) Festival: During this event on the last Sunday in July, festival floats are carried, skits and dances are performed, and offerings are presented around the Kaido Shrine in Arikawa.
Tanabata Festival: From August 6th to the 15th, vibrant Tanabata decorations are placed outside of the front of houses in the Aokata and Nama areas. In this region, Tanabata is celebrated around the same time as Obon, and decorations are placed around the graves of relatives who have passed within the previous year. The sight of the decorations among rows of traditional Japanese houses is enchanting.
Nenbutsu Odori: On August 14th, during Obon, about 14 to 15 young men visit households in Aokata and Arikawa and dance while bearing the flag of namu amida butsu, which means, "to entrust oneself to Amida Buddha.” This traditional dance was originally designed to promote Buddhist teachings, but the dance is now performed for the dead among other functions. The dancers are clad in white short-sleeved undershirts, long underpants, leggings, and hand coverings with accessories of grass skirts, straw sandals, woven hats, sashes, and taiko drums strapped across their chest which they beat with a gong in a hypnotic rhythm.
Dragon Boat Racing: Long dragon boats called peilon are propelled by several rowers during these summer races held in Uonome and Naname.
Kamigoto Kyokai Meguri--Walk & Cruise: Visit several churches while enjoying the scenery of Kamigoto on foot during this two-day tour.
Church Concerts: Listen to orchestral performances in various illuminated churches around Christmastime. Most of the Catholic churches in town are decorated by the believers for about one month from December to January. In August 2012, these illuminations were recognized as part of Japan’s Night View Heritage.
Kagura: (Takes place in the evening during the fall and winter months.)
Goto Kagura has been practiced in the Goto Islands for over 400 years and reflects traditions unique to the area. It took its modern shape during the mid-Edo period. Even within town, the dances vary based on the district. In the autumn and winter months, many shrines offer these lively performances in which 30 dances are performed entirely in the space of approximately 3.6 square meters. In 2016, Kamigoto Kagura was designated an Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property of Japan.