Yokote Kamakura Snow Festival 横手雪祭り

Japan's igloos


Yokote, located around the city of Akita, celebrates the Yokote kamakura matsuri every February 15 and 16, during which it hosts an impressive number of igloo-shaped constructions. This tradition dating back several hundred years offers the vision of carpets of snow studded with light. Back to a life-size work of art.


A children's festival

The Yokote Kamakura Festival is over 450 years old . It is said to have originated from the burning of decorations for New Year's festivities which, in this movement, would be sent back to the gods and from the custom of children hunting birds to protect crops. It is the latter as well as teenagers who build kamakura or snow huts in the city every year. They are created from snow agglomerated into a small mound which is then dug . The igloos are lit by lanterns, while an altar in honor of the deities of water is installed there, with daifuku (stuffed rice dough) and amazake (non-alcoholic drink made from rice ).

Read: The matsuri, Japanese festivals

Les petits igloos du festival de la neige de Yokote.

The small igloos of the Yokote Snow Festival.

Chris Lewis

Deskamakura of all sizes

About a hundred large kamakura are made between the JR Yokote station and the castle - located about 2 kilometers from the river - and can accommodate between 4 and 6 people. From 6 to 9 p.m., children hail passers-by in the Akita dialect to invite them to make an offering to the deities and to taste daifuku and amazake . You can pray to the gods of water there for good future harvests, good health, etc. This is an opportunity for travelers to chat with locals and discover an authentic Japan.

Read also : The snow festival in Sapporo

Other small kamakura , just big enough to hold a lantern, are lined up in tight rows along the Yokote River, near the castle or Minami Elementary School. These small kamakura offer a romantic winter vision to the visitor on a walk, and the chance to take magnificent photos from popular observation points such as the castle, built on a hill and which allows a panoramic view of the city.


A kamakura in front of Yokote Castle


Address, timetable & access

  • Address

  • Timetable

    From the station, the museum is a 10-minute walk, the castle 40 minutes. A free bus follows the circuit between the museum, Yokote Castle and Minami Elementary School during both evenings.
  • Access

    February 15 and 16. The festival takes place between 6 p.m. and 12 p.m. on both days.

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