One of the region’s liveliest annual festivals, the Furukawa Matsuri (April 19 & 20) celebrates the arrival of spring with grand parades of wonderfully decorated floats (yatai). The highlight is the Okoshi Daiko procession, which starts at 9pm on April 19 and runs until about 2am: led by over a thousand people carrying lanterns, hundreds of men, clad only in baggy white underpants and belly bands, compete to place small drums, tied to long poles, atop a portable stage that bears the huge main drum, which is all the while being solemnly thumped. The men also balance atop poles and spin around on their stomachs. Extra late-night trains and buses run on festival days between Takayama and Furukawa. The yatai and mikoshi processions happen during the day.

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