The Yokote Kamakura Festival is one of the Michinoku Godai Snow Festivals (five major snow festivals of Michinoku). Yokote is one of the areas in Japan’s snow country with the heaviest snowfalls. The Kamakura Festival, held on 15 and 16 February every year, is dedicated to the water deity. During this folk festival, altars are built in snow chambers where children play, drink amazake (sweet fermented rice drink) and grill rice cakes. The festival has a history of about 450 years.
The Kamakura Festival was originally an event in which money was offered to the water deity enshrined in the altar, and was held to pray for the well-being of families, prosperity of businesses, and good harvests. However, as times changed, it gradually developed to become a tourist attraction and took on its current format. Inside the 100 or so kamakura snow-huts that are erected in the city, children feast on amazake and rice cakes.
The beauty of the kamakura snow-huts as their silhouettes stand out in relief against the dark night, is magical. We recommend taking a walk through the kamakura venues, starting from the park in front of Yokote City Hall Main Government Office, where the most kamakura are erected, followed by Yokoteminami Elementary School and Janosaki-kawara where numerous mini kamakura can be found, then on to the kamakura built along the old samurai residences, and the kamakura at the illuminated Yokote Castle.