The Kutchan Jaga Matsuri, or Potato festival, is the largest summer festival in the Niseko area. The potato is the local mascot for Kutchan town and this 2 day festival celebrates this important local crop with an extravaganza of singing, dancing, fireworks, and of course a delicious array of potato based dishes!
The entire main street of Kutchan is closed to traffic for the main parade and food stalls that line the road. During the final parade of the festival young and old dance down the main street together in unison while the town song is pumped out of the emergency PA system along the street, and the festival culminates in a spectacular fireworks display from behind the train station.
During the festival there are several events and exhibitions, including Taiko drumming, food and drink stands, games like the potato rolling challenge, all-you-can-grab time limit potato gathering, dance exhibitions from traditional Japanese Yosakoi dance to modern dance, and several different parades, starting with the opening ceremony marching band, and ending with the float procession. The Hanazono Hill Climb cycling race also takes place during the festival as one of the side events.
This is a great family event that brings together people of all ages. It’s a wonderful chance to see some traditional Japanese culture and make some new friends at the same time! You’ll definitely want to bring a camera and get as many shots of the different costumes and floats as you can.
Also come hungry and ready to try out the many food stalls lining the streets that offer various BBQ items and sweets, as well as plenty of draft beer on tap!
This post is also available in: Japanese