The Fukiya Lantern Festival takes place in September in the quaint mountain plateau town of Fukiya, famed for the production of bengara (a reddish-brown mineral), which is used industrially in dyes. One day a year the village is lit by lanterns made of bengara clay. The result is a warm glow that glimmers off walls made of the same material, wrapping onlookers in an earthtone blanket of light.
An evening event, the highlight of the two day festival is the procession of Bon dancers dressed in white Kimono that have been dipped in bengara pigment and folded straw hats. They move down the lane rhythmically, with their hands fluttering in the air, as the lanterns that have been placed on the road light their way.
The shops and restaurants are open and alight as well during the festival and you can’t help thinking that as beautiful as Fukiya is during the day, it is twice as much so at night.
As the village is about 20 kilometers from Takahashi City center, you might want to consider staying the night in the village when you come for the festival. A great option is the renovated former international villa, provided that you make reservations in advance.
The guesthouse Eleven Village (https://www.elevenvillage.org/english/) was conceived as a way for visitors to get a comfortable introduction to Fukiya and enjoy the slow life away from urban life an electronic interconnection. It is right in the center of town so you can easily walk there after the festival.
Take advantage of the night and stop by everyone’s favorite Meiji era landmark, Fukiya Elementary School. Also noted for its romantic nighttime illumination, it is a piece of history that you can’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia for once you know the story behind it.
ABOUT THE AREA
Takahashi City is a small municipality along the Takahashi River and is notable for is historic buildings and wonderful townscape. The standout structure of he city is Bitchu Matsuyama Castle, which is located high in the mountains. There are also former samurai residences, a temple and a historic church.
Nariwa Town is part of Takahashi City and is about a twenty minute bus ride away. Although the city center has a lot to offer there is much to see in the surrounding towns and villages. Nariwa is a quiet old town with a landscape that is stunning at any time of the year.
Access: Take the Hakubi Line from Okayama Station to Takahashi City. Take the Bihoku Bus from Takahashi Bus Center to Fukiya Furusato Village.
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