This festival takes place from October 21-22 each year in Usuki Hachiman Shrine in Himeji City in Hyogo Prefecture.
On the night before the festival (10/21), at the Usuki Hachiman Shrine's gate,
They have the paper lantern display and on 10/22, 18 yatai are carried into the shrine.
Carried by the most shrine parishioners in the Banshū region, 18 yatai make their entrance. You have to see these one-ton yatai raised above the men's heads to the shouts of "Cho-sa!"!
During the paper lantern event on festival eve (10/21), they hang the lanterns from 3-meter high bamboo poles and then proceed to smash them. It's a magical sight, but you might be a little taken aback by how violent it is...?
There are all sorts of things to see like the 5 yatai display between 3-4 PM at JR Aboshi Station West side on the 21st, and the 3 yatai display at 6 PM at Usuki Shrine's two-story gate, but what I really recommend is the yatai-clashing on the 22nd at 9 PM at Ohirabashi Bridge. The lights of the yatai reflected on the river is something special.
If you can't make it all the way to the bridge, you can see the ornamental lights of the lined-up yatai in the shrine compound around 7 PM on the 22nd. Although the shouts are slightly different from district to district, when they shout "Cho-sa" they lift the yatai into the air and hold it there quietly for a very powerful moment.
I also recommend seeing the "danjiri" in addition to the paper lanterns and the yatai. Unlike the yatai, the danjiri are moved by pulling on them and the leader pulls on the rope while girls in kimono are at the front playing shamisen and taiko drums. It's really something to see! It's amazing in its own unique way so please check it out!
Elementary school boys ride in the yatai playing the drums and chanting.
Pay attention to the unusual kimonos they wear with their patterns of dragons and tigers.
When you talk about the Usuki Festival, you're talking about the paper lantern-breaking! The big lanterns are as big as an adult. The sounds of the lanterns banging into each other is the best part and will give you goose bumps!
【Access toUsuki Hachiman Shrine】
15 minutes walk from Sanyo Railway”Aboshi”station
(From Himeji station, 27 minutes/ JPY370 for one way)