The Konosu Otori Festival is a three day event for locals, but on one day they have a parade that they welcome the general public to. It is called the Kounotori Densetsu (Legendary Oriental Storks) Parade. They named Konosu after storks. Even the principal shrine in the city is called Ko (stork) Shrine. The Kounotori, also spelt Konotori in English, oriental storks actually went extinct in Japan in 1971. However, they reintroduced them to Japan around 20 years ago. You can see two Kounotori at “Tenku no Sato” on the grounds of Cosmos Arena Fukiage in Konosu. The cosmos will actually be in bloom at the same time as the Otori Festival.
The Otori Festival celebrates the legend of the stork of Konosu. The festival opens with a performance that reenacts the legend. You can enjoy a colorful, lively parade with floats and street performers. It is followed by an equally vivacious large snake parade by Gunma’s Numata City Oigami Hot spring. The snake festival of Oigami Hot spring is another unique festival. However, they only hold it once every 12 years when it is the year of the snake! So if you want to see the snake parade of Oigami, this is a rare chance. (The giant snake of Oigami will not be in Konosu!)
Apart from the parades, there are festival stalls along the Nakasendo on the day. Moreover, there are various live acts, you can even see ladder acrobats, one of my personal favorite festival street performances in Japan! (See Dezome Shiki). They end the festival with traditional festival floats drawn along the road.
For the festival, they pedestrianize three kilometers of the famous “Nakasendo”. It is unusual for such a long section of a street to be pedestrianized for a festival. According to the Konosu website, it is the longest stretch to be pedestrianized annually for a festival in all of Japan.
The date of the festival changes yearly, but in 2022, the Kounotori Densetsu Parade is on Sunday October 16th. It is on from 1 to 7 pm.
Event: Otori Festival おおとり祭り
Venue: Konosu Nakasendo near Konosu Station
Date: Sunday October 16th
Time: 1 pm to 7 pm
Official event page on Konosu City Website. The featured image is from that website.
Close to JR Konosu Station. There is also a car park for the festival near the station.