Otaru Tide Festival - Otaru Ushio Matsuri

Summer festival season in Japan doesn't disappoint. And Otaru is one of the big ones in Hokkaido.

The Otaru Ushio Matsuri, or tide festival, is a massive summer festival in the port city of Otaru. It is held every year in the last half of July. Otaru is a bustling port city, and the purpose of the festival is to show appreciation for the wealth and life the sea provides and for continued good fortune for Otaru. 

2022 marks the return after 3 years and is the 56th installment! Thousands of people come together for this festive event. Fireworks open and close the celebrations. The main event of the festival is the Shio Nerikomi, a parade of revelers that do a traditional dance as they wind through the city. 8 hours may seem like a long time for a parade and dance, but you are free to move around and enjoy some of the other ongoing attractions. Also, the dance performed is easy to learn, so feel free to join the dedicated area for participating in the dance! Also, there are usually over 50 groups scheduled to dance/march in the parade with up to 10,000 people participating at once!

Key festival moments - 2022

July 22nd Friday - Opening day
15:00 ~ 16:00 Drum Performance - Taiko
16:00 ~ 17:30 Medias Zone - Hard Rock Live Band from Sapporo - Akashic Records
18:00 ~ 18:30 Soplatico Dance School Performance
19:00 ~ 19:50 Opening Ceremony
20:00 ~ 22:00 Kobayashi Dance - Grace and Friends
July 23rd Saturday - Day 2
12:00 ~ 13:30 Air-G Radio (Live broadcast from the festival)
13:00 ~ 21:00 Ushio Nerikomi - Ongoing parade throughout the town ***
21:00 ~ 22:00 Ushio Taiko performance
July 24th Sunday - Final day
10:30~11:40 Air-G Radio (Live broadcast from the festival)
12:10~13:00 Ushio Taiko performance
13:10~15:20 Live Yokasoi dance performance
15:45~18:20 Live Music: Two- Nothing - Maiko Takahashi and friends -
Quadrofilio - Chameleon7 - Starless NEO
19:00~20:00 Sato Kodai Live
20:00~20:50 Hokkaido Shimbun Fireworks Festival
20:50~21:00 Ushio Taiko performance
21:00~ 21:30 Closing ceremony
21:30~21:50 Goodbye Shio Ondo
21:50~22:00 Closing Ushio Taiko performance

While it is a little far afield from Niseko, a 1-hour drive, it is worth it to visit and experience the energy and culture of a massive festival.

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