MORE than 1300 people gathered in central Hirafu for a great afternoon of food and festivities at the 2nd Hirafu Matsuri.
Billed as “a local Japanese festival, but with an international flavour”, the festival reflects Niseko’s own unique character as a melting pot of nationalities and personalities. The day was a huge success and drew positive reviews from the diverse crowd of domestic and foreign attendees.
One highlight was the diverse array of food – along with traditional Japanese festival fare such as Yakitori & Kakikori, delicious treats from famed local establishments such as Kamimura Restaurant & The Barn ensured a range of choices perhaps unmatched at any other festival in Japan.
A range of activities entertained festival goers, with the Mochi & Candy toss events spectacular as hundreds of hands grabbed desperately for the flying treats. Even as the day drew to a close, the events continued, with local troupe “Koryu Taiko” providing an energetic Taiko drum performance in front of the blazing bonfire. The evening finished with a few drops of rain but an impressive fireworks display and the atmosphere meant guests stayed on well after the official events had wound up.
Despite months of planning and significant local sponsor support, the event almost didn’t go ahead. Torrential rain had the festival grounds ankle deep in water just two hours before the official start time. An army of volunteers with brooms, buckets and towels pitched in to remove the standing water, then totally rearrange the stalls to avoid the worst of it. In the end, festival-goers were able to enjoy all the events as planned.
The Hirafu Matsuri has gained a strong following in its two years with both locals and visitors appreciating the relaxed occasion as a chance to both catch up with old friends and make a few new ones in Niseko’s famously welcoming attitude. Next year’s event is expected to be even better again – and hopefully dry!
Event organizers would like to thank all the local businesses involved for their kind donations, and everyone who worked so hard to make the event a reality.