Sunday, August 1st. A portable shrine (omikoshi) shaped like a toad and weighing about 800 kg is toted about the area during a parade in the evening. Vendors of "toad's grease" chant their slogans during that time. A fireworks display will be held after dark.
During the period from Aug. 4 to 6, the shopping area to the west of Tsuchiura Station will be holding its annual festival. tel. 0298-26-2810.
Named after the famous ruler who dressed as a commoner to go out and help his people, this festival is the main one held in Mito. The main parade will be held on Aug. 5, as is one of the bigger parades in the area. (see picture) tel. 029-224-0441.
August 5, at dusk, the beautiful "toro-nagashi", the traditional custom of floating paper lanterns down the river, will be held in Shimodate, in the vacinity of where route 50 crosses the main river through town. This custom is related to Obon, and comes from the idea that the spirits of the ancestors are in the area and can be guided and/or comforted (placated) by such ceremonies. tel. 0296-24-2111.
Held during the Obon holidays on August 15, this festival centers on the lighting of lanterns. Traditionally, laterns were lit to help guide the spirits of the ancestors "home for the holidays" before they would be sent of again into the nether world for another year of wandering. The location is the Obatake Washi Jinja (shrine) in Niihari-Mura about 2 km west of the Tsuchiura Kita Interchange of the Joban Expressway.
Held in downtown Kashima, the home of the "Antlers" pro soccer team, Aug. 19 - 20. It's a great time to visit the Kashima Shrine, said to be the oldest in all of eastern Japan, dating back well over 1000 years.
Along the Kuji River each year, the town of Daigo (near the famous Fukuroda Falls in northern Ibaraki) holds a fireworks display and "toro-nagashi", the traditional custom of floating paper lanterns down the river. This year's event is scheduled for Aug. 14, or in case of rain, Aug. 19. tel. 02957-2-0285. A similar event is also scheduled in Tone, at the opposite end of Ibaraki (and closer to Tsukuba) on Aug. 16 (or 17) at the Highway 4 Bridge. tel. 0297-68-2211.
If you are planning a trip to the pottery capital of Kasama, Aug. 19 and 20 is a good time to go (or to avoid, depending on your interests), and get some of the flavor of Festival ala Japan. tel. 0296-72-9222.
Literally meaning "rope fire", this traditional festival will be held twice, on the 23rd at the Takaoka Atago Shrine and on the 24th at the Obari Atago Shrine in Ina-machi, to the south of Tsukuba. tel. 0297-58-2111.
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