Sagemon Girls and the Sagemon Festival

As if  travel to Japan weren’t wonderful enough:  check out the Sagemon Festival in Japan’s Yanagawa City.  This yearly festival wishes young girls lifelong health and happiness on their first birthday, and is a cultural moment North America should take note of.

But back to the Sagemon Festival…

Beginning in mid-February, visitors to beautiful Yanagawa will see multi-colored “sagemon” decorating the city.   Sagemons are colourful scraps of old cloth made into little ball-like charms, and these ornaments are seen as the girls’ good luck talismans.  Then in mid-March, the Ohina-sama Water Parade is held. The water parade showcases proud young girls dressed in their finest kimono travelling downriver.

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The Sagemon Festival culminates in early April in a ceremony where paper dolls are floated downriver.


Yanagawa is a beautiful riverside town built on a series of canals, and is worth considering a trip just for its picturesque setting. But time your trip to the Sagemon Festival, and you’ll experience a lost-in-translation moment that only Japan can provide.  Have a look at the experience here, including a peek at the adorable Sagemon Girls:

Getting to Yanagawa City

From Tokyo:

Air: 1h 45 min from Haneda to Fukuoka Airport, and 5 min from the airport to Hakata Station by subway.

Train:   4h 50 min from Tokyo to Hakata Station by JR Tokaido-Sanyo Shinkansen Line. 48 min from Hakata via Tenjin (subway) and Fukuoka (Nishitetsu Line, limited express) to Nishitetsu Yanagawa Station.

From Osaka:

Air: 1h 15 min from Itami to Fukuoka Airport.

Train:  2h 20 min from Shin-Osaka to Hakata Station by Shinkansen.