Winters in the Northern regions of Japan are harsh and snow-filled, but in Akita Prefecture’s Yokote City, a unique winter festival brings fun and light to a few winter nights in February. The Yokote Kamakura Festival is today’s topic, just in time for 2015’s festival, held from February 14-16.
Kamakura are snow huts. They are often made by children after a big snow in regions across Japan, and are the main component of the festival. After building many of these huts around the city, an alter is set into each, to a water deity to pray for ample water in the coming months. Children often grill rice cakes inside the hut, and beckon passers-by with hot amazake and the cakes. Visitors accept the food by entering, and make an offering to the deity in each hut they enter.
Also during the festival are extended areas of the castle allowing night views of the city, making your own kamakura in Komyoji Park, and snow sculptures and food stalls around the city into the night.
Not able to make it in the winter months? You can still view a kamakura, kept cold at the Kamakuran Hall in a special room year round.
I’ve never been to the festival, but kamakura are made all around the country. These pictures are from one on the top of a mountain, which we found while snowboarding one year. They’re pretty fun!
Snow Hut at a ski resort in Niigata Prefecture
Small alter inside the hut