Embracing traditions

Held Oct. 7-9 each year, Kunchi is as much a celebration of Nagasaki’s cosmopolitan history as it is a traditional Japanese festival.

Among the mikoshi (portable shrines) paraded through the city there are also Chinese lion dancers and floats representing Dutch and Portuguese ships. The performances take place at a handful of downtown sites but, for three days, the festival takes over the city.

Dejima Wharf becomes livelier than ever as crowds jostle around the scores of stalls that sell all kinds of food and toys, while at any time in Chinatown you’re liable to encounter a stray mikoshi being lugged around by its chanting bearers.

The finale is held at Suwa Shrine on the morning of the third day.

You need to get in early for a ticket to the shrine, or get up early to find a good vantage point to view from outside, but it’s worth it to see the climax.

This is when a heavy mikoshi, laden down with bright cushions and young taiko drummers, is flung up into the air and then caught again as it comes down.

In line with COVID-19 guidelines, the government is strongly requesting that residents and visitors exercise caution if they choose to visit bars, restaurants, music venues and other public spaces.
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