If you happen to visit the beautiful Himeji Castle towards the end of May, you might want to consider dropping by the Aioi Peron Matsuri as it’s just a few minutes away by train.
Access to the Aioi Peron Matsuri
The festival takes place at Aioi Bay of Aioi City in Hyogo Prefecture (map).
It’s just a 20 mins walk away from JR Aioi Station where even some Shinkansen stop! It’s very convenient.
Furthermore it’s just a few minutes by train from Himeji. So, if you happen to visit Himeji Castle towards the end of May, you really should consider attending this festival in Aioi.
What is the Aioi Peron Festival about?
The Aioi Peron Matsuri (相生ペーロン祭り) is held every year during the last weekend of May. On Saturday evening there’s a gigantic firework and the main festival is then held on Sunday.
In 2017 it’s on March 27 and 28.
It’s a local festival and the main attraction are the dragon boat races.
Different teams will give their all in a highly competitive rowing race.
The tradition of dragon boat races goes back to China from where it was brought to Nagasaki in 1655. In 1922, some IHI workers of Nagasaki were transferred to Aioi and brought the dragon boat racing tradition with them.
Besides the boat races, you’ll be able to enjoy parades, performances and a gigantic firework (about 5000 will be sent up).
The firework is on Saturday from 19:00 to 20:50.
The main events on Sunday are held from 10:00 to 15:00.
It’s not a very famous festival among tourists, but among the locals.
Thus it’s a great opportunity to enjoy a typical local Japanese festival.
Various teams compete against each other. There are all-men teams, all-female teams, knuckle four etc.
You can see the results (winners) of previous years here (in Japanese only).
At Aioi Boat Park (相生ボート公園) you can find this dragon boat monument.
As you can see in the background there are many food stands, so the people observing the races all day long won’t have to starve. ;)
The main street leading up to the boat races at Aioi Bay is nicely decorated and has various festival and food stands.
If you get tired of the boat races, you should just enjoy the various performances and the parade that’s going on the main street.
It goes without saying that I especially enjoyed this Okinawan-style taiko performance.
Locals from Aioi City prepare various performances. It won’t get boring.
In the photo above you see a dragon dance (although there they were taking a break *g*).
Another great performance I really enjoyed. It was a “Japanese pirate dance performance” … kind of thing.
And the team consisted of people of all ages.
Even boys were performing the dance. I really liked it a lot!
The end of May can be a bit hot, but everyone was doing their best.
Even the little one on the left photo was performing. So cute!
There were international performances as well.
The local school’s brass band was giving a great performance as well.
Even the local kindergarten kids joined. So adorable.
Of course a historic performance had to be done as well.
Last but not least all the cute mascots of various cities in Hyogo Prefecture appeared on stage. Do you recognize any? I know that they’re not very famous, but I really like “Kamin” (the pink rabbit thingie on the right) of Kamikawa.
It’s a really nice festival with a local atmosphere and yet there’s so much going on, I didn’t know where to go first and what to enjoy next. It certainly won’t get boring and you won’t regret coming in case you’re nearby (e.g. in Himeji, Kobe or Okayama).