Experience the Yonezawa Uesugi Festival

Yamagata Prefecture

Relive a fierce and deadly battle which occurred over 500 years ago.

The Yonezawa Uesugi Festival lets viewers relive the historic Battle of Kawanakajima, where the Uesugi and Takeda Clans fought a fierce and deadly battle for control of Northern Japan over 500 years ago.

Complete with hundreds of participants clad in full samurai armor, cannon fire, horses, and even live fighting, this is a must-see event for those who are interested in Japanese history and samurai culture.

International tourists may also take part in this festival!

 

Mounted samurai move in to strike

Experience Yonezawa Uesugi Festival

Cost

General viewing areas are free.
Special boxed seating with a central view of the festival is also available.

Participating in the battle of the 2022 festival: from 5000 yen which included a rental armor costume, help to get you dressed, lunch, insurance and a souvenir.

Availability

The Yonezawa Uesugi Matsuri is held each year on May 3rd during Golden Week.
The battle starts at 2 pm on the river bank of the Matsukawa River.
Participants of the battle must apply to be in the festival by mid-March. They must be there on the event day from 8:00am to 4:00 pm.

Average Duration

Viewing: 2 hours
Participating in battle: 8 hours

Address

2 Chome Aioicho, Yonezawa, Yamagata Prefecture 992-0032

Important notes

For viewers, we recommend getting there an hour early to get good seats or buy a reserved box seat. Crowds of over 1000 sometimes attend the event.
Participants in the battle of the festival must be 18 years old or over.
Experience availability may vary. Reserve to confirm availability.
Please notify us at least 3 days before if you must cancel or modify your reservation.

The History and Significance of Uesugi Festival

The Takeda Clan prepares for battle

Situated in the rural area of Southern Yamagata, today Yonezawa is a rather quaint and peaceful city within the prefecture. However, the history of this town and the importance it holds within Yamagata Prefecture dates back to one of the most famous Samurai battles of the Tohoku region.

Uesugi Kenshin is known as one of the most famous Samurai in Japan from the Sengoku Period. This is the era in which Japan faced decades of civil war and social upheaval from 1467–1615.

Out of approximately 70 battles he fought during his lifetime, it is said that there were only two times in which his army failed to win a victory, earning him the fierce reputation as a ‘God of War.’ The Uesugi festival showcases a representation of one of his most famous victories, a fight against the large and powerful army of his biggest rival, Takeda Shingen.

In 1561, Kenshin and Shingen fought their biggest battle, known as the fourth battle of Kawanakajima. Kenshin used an ingenious tactic to overpower his rival. The soldiers in the front would switch with their comrades in the rear, and as those in the frontline became tired or wounded, they would continue to switch ranks. This allowed the tired soldiers to take a break, while the soldiers who had not seen action would fight on the front lines with fresh legs.

In the end, the Uesugi army suffered 62% casualties, while the Takeda lost 72%. However, as the result of their rivalry is considered by many historians to have ended as a draw, the festival in Yonezawa will always end the reenactment with a contest of battle cries from the two opposing sides – leaving it in the hands of the audience as to which will be crowned victorious upon the day of the battle! 

Which side will you choose?

Viewing the festival

General viewing areas are free and special paid boxed seating with a central view of the festival is also available. You can reserve a box seating by filling out the form at the bottom of this page.

The Yonezawa Uesugi Matsuri is held each year on May 3rd during Golden Week and the battle you can view starts at 2 pm on the river bank of the Matsukawa River. We recommend getting there an hour early to get good seats or buy a reserved box seat, as crowds of over 1000 sometimes attend the event. Viewing this battle will take around 2 hours.

Participating in the festival battle

International tourists may also take part in this festival! You can be one of the fierce warriors in the action-packed live battle.

Participants must apply to be in the festival by mid-March. They must be there on the event day, May 3rd, from 8:00am to 4:00 pm. It costs from 5000 yen to participate, which includes a rental armor costume, help to get you dressed, lunch, insurance and a souvenir.

Participants of the battle must be 18 years old or over.

Access

This festival is accessible from Yonezawa Station. It is approximately a 30-minute walk or a 10-minute taxi drive.

There is also a large paid parking lot near the festival for those with cars. However, please be aware that the area around the festival site will be very congested, so it is advised to leave plenty of time for your journey in order to assure you are able to get a great spot to view the action.

Reserve your Uesugi Festival Experience today!

You can send a booking inquiry for your experience below. After we receive your inquiry, we will confirm the booking with our partners and send you a booking confirmation email at least 3 days before your desired date.
Please note this form does not confirm the availability of an experience or reserves an experience straightaway.

Cancelation policy

Our general cancelation policy for our experiences is below. Cancelation fees may vary according to exceptional circumstances.

3 days before

Free

2 days before

30% of experience cost

Day before

50% of experience cost

Day of

100% of experience cost