Kuronefune Matsuri (Black Ship Festival)

If you are here in May, there is a yearly festival that is surprisingly big given the town’s size and is so much fun! Kurofune means “Black Ship” in English and is the celebration of the Americans arriving in their black ship in Shimoda and opening Japan in 1853.

Despite the unusual history, it’s the biggest festival of the year, lasting three days. Food stalls line multiple roads in the middle of town, local shops are open all evening and set up their own stalls, there are boat tours, many different bands and stages, and even fireworks! This year they lasted 30 minutes!

There is a parade every year as well. It includes official navy officers from America, and this year the Japanese traditional Okinawan Taiko group performed, the elementary school kids unicycled, and historical Samurai, sailors, and even Jack Sparrow participated. Others dressed up for the festival: people dressed in yukatas, kimonos, as samurai, and navy officers tailed the official parade.

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