The Oiran Cherry Blossom Festival Report: Tsubame Sakura Festival - Oiran Dochu (つばめ桜祭り) - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

The Oiran Cherry Blossom Festival Report: Tsubame Sakura Festival - Oiran Dochu (つばめ桜祭り)

The cherry blossom period is one of the best time of the years to visit Japan. Not only can you enjoy the marvelous sight of the thousands of flowers in bloom, but the temperature is also perfect (Japanese summer can be extremely hot and humid). If you want to combine the sakura season with a traditional Japanese festival featuring an Oiran Dochu parade you even have the chance to do this after the last sakura in Tokyo has fallen.

In 2016 I had the honor of being the first foreigner to participate in the Tsubame Sakura Festival as an Oiran. It gave a truly unique insight into this festival, but unfortunately, we could only walk inside due to the bad weather conditions. Last year I went back to Niigata to help out along with the other Oiran girls from the festival in 2016.

Above: Our headshots as Oiran from the previous year's festival were used for the 2017 poster. In case you wonder I'm the one depicted in the middle.

The festival takes place in Bunsui in Tsubame, Niigata. In case you wondered, this is a little drowsy town where not much happens throughout the year, but the town really comes alive during the sakura season when the almost 80 year old Tsubame Sakura Festival takes place.

Above: Evening sakura by Bunsui Station

Last year I went as mentioned back to Niigata to help out as a volunteer at the festival. We spent most of our time helping to hand out flyers with information, but in the end I had a little bit of time to actually take a look at the parade myself.

The highlight of the festival is the parade day, called the Oiran Dochu (おいらん道中) featuring young and old dressed up in traditional costumes, and the 3 elected Oiran girls. As I only partly had the chance to see the parade I didn't manage to get photos of all three, but as you can see the little girls in kimono are absolutely adorable by themselves too.

At this unique festival you can see so many people dressed up in beautiful traditional attires, and along with the backdrop it creates a truly magical atmosphere. If you're looking for somewhere to go for sakura-viewing around mid-May I would totally recommend stopping by Bunsui for this sakura festival.

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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